Interview with a student artist

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By Corinne Love

(Griffith Fuller Jr.)

By Corinne Love

Angel Velenzuela is late for our interview.

Originally scheduled for a 2:30 mid-day questionnaire, she shows up fashionably late around 4 p.m.

When she does manage to show up, she has a quiet smile and she quickly explains her complicated story.

The story is that on her way to this interview, something had gone horribly awry with her contacts, forcing her to return home, thus her being late.

What I’ve come to expect from Velenzuela is that she has a quirky sense of relating to her and others.

Her stories often leak into bizarre tangents and have little to do with the original question.

But it is all very endearing.

In February of this year, she had an exhibit in Riverside’s downtown Art Walk. Her work was featured in a studio with other artists.

Viewers who observe her artwork often remark in amazement, or they want to know more.

She has been painting for around 3 or 4 years.

In between painting she also does photography, and works with ceramics and sculptures.

As she pushes around her salad, she often smiles and says funny comments in between the interview questions.

Growing up with a problematic family, Velenzuela moved around a lot.

Often finding refuge in her artwork as a creative outlet.

The obstacles of dealing with her family, has actually provided her with admirable qualities, she is eternally optimistic and independent.

Her independent nature is how she got her studio, by the way.

“There was an opening, and I took it,” she said.

That sort of attitude has led her to pursuing what she wants out of her creative life.

For May, she is planning another Art Walk exhibit.

The showing will consist of photographic portraiture that she has recently taken up.

Although she has not had much time to work on it, most of her time is divided up between school and work. Like many RCC students, she has to find time to do what drives her.

So when does she find time to create her work?

“The time I should be sleeping,” she said, with a giggle.

At a point in our interview, I manage to ask Velenzuela, aside from the random freeway trips and what her favorite color is (purple), I ask her about her art.

“I paint what I feel” she said. She thinks about it for a second before delving deeper into what she should or could explain.

Finally, she looks up, and continues “I just do my own thing.”

A lot of her work, she concedes is about mystery, life experiences, the elaborate and how all of this ties into this energy that gives her the push to paint.

“I really can’t sit myself down and do something, I have to have a feel for it,” she continued.

After she says this, she laughs again, amusing the both of us with being a “lazy artist.”

We go into more of her inspirations and among musicians, she finds Björk to be a major influence. Other favorites include Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus.

Yet, don’t make the assumption that music is a primary influence for her work.

“I never think about that. Music is comfort and company,” she said. Typically, she works by herself.

If any artist did have a reflective influence on Velenzuela, it would probably be Frida Kahlo.

Kahlo, the Mexican surrealist painter, Velenzuela says is probably the most similar to her work.

“I saw her work and said ‘that looks like something I did’,” she said.

Like Kahlos’ work, Velenzuela’s artwork continually uses bold shapes and colors resulting in striking portraits.

She paints unknown figures that seem to be deep into nature or somewhere that is exotic and a bit dreamy.

This is Velenzuela, too, for the majority of our interview, we tether back and forth on the questions often coming up with funny anecdotes. Such as, Velenzuela loves her studio building, because it’s “creepy.”

Random driving is a pastime of hers, since she loves to take herself to new places.

Thrift store shopping is something else she likes to do, and yet, she continually looks immaculate.

For the interview today, she is wearing a black pea coat and slacks; at her exhibit in February she donned an almost too glamorous for a student, ensemble of brocade, fur, and jewelry.

She seems older than her years, (she’s 20), but it’s all apart of her personality as this very mysterious person with the sly smile.

Her motivation is remarkable; she’s going to New York for the summer, for inspiration and fun.

For “Fun” many people would like to go New York for fun and inspiration, and she is doing just that, but it is no surprise that she’s worked hard and stayed motivated over the years.

Her motivation and quirky personality will guarantee that she’ll become one of the rising artists in contemporary art.

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