We had the good fortune of connecting with Aixa Oliveras and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aixa, how do you think about risk?
For me, taking risks has been an integral part of developing both my artwork and career. It was a risk to move from Puerto Rico to California to get my Master’s degree. Apart from the school’s community, I didn’t know anyone in Laguna Beach. It felt like I was hitting the restart button on my life. But the alternative would’ve been to remain stuck artistically back home, without getting any of the feedback and inspiration that the move would offer me. To me, that made it worth the risk. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, but looking back on it, I still believe that it was a good risk to take. When it comes to making art, taking risks allows you to explore different ways of expressing yourself in your work, and helps to avoid stagnation and repetition. There is a danger in getting too comfortable in one method or way of working, which can create an artist’s block. I feel that by taking risks and experimenting with different methods and techniques, artists can keep their mind fresh and interested in their work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is about creating symbolic narratives based on events of my own life. Working within the realm of classical realism, with a touch of surrealism, I pair the female figure with pattern and symbolic use of color. Currently, I’m creating work based around the idea of rebirth and identity – what does it mean to let go of who you were before? What does reinvention look like? I’m inspired by the Symbolist and Art Nouveau art movements, as well as the warmth and color of Puerto Rico – my birthplace. All of these ideas and influences interact with each other in my work, creating a metaphorical narrative that speaks to who I am as an artist. I’m most proud of making the leap and moving to California to get my master’s degree in Fine Art. It shook me from the artistic stagnation that I was feeling and set me on the path I’m currently following as a professional artist. I had to overcome many challenges, most of them being related to mental blocks and defense mechanisms that I didn’t realize I had developed until then. I found that I had to get out of my own way to develop both as an artist and as a person. As a shy introvert, it was a challenge for me to speak up and express my ideas and thoughts in front of a group of people. It’s still a challenge, but now I feel that I have a better handle on it. I now know that I have a voice, to not be afraid to express it, and that what I have to say is of value. That also relates to the subject matter of my work. I paint female figures because they are different facets of who I am. They are the elements of my personality and sense of being that are hidden beneath the surface – strength, resilience, the power and grace of femininity. I feel that by expressing these ideas in this way, I can create a visual narrative that not only women can identify with, but that can also help men understand women as individuals and femininity as a whole.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s so many great places to go to in Downtown Laguna Beach! First thing would be going to Thalia Street Beach. It’s a beautiful stretch of beach that tends to be less crowded than Main Beach, so that makes it a great place to relax and enjoy the ocean air. Afterwards, we could have lunch and/or coffee at Urth Café, and dinner at Carmelita’s Kitchen de Mexico. We could also check out the art galleries on North PCH as well as the Laguna Art Museum. When it comes to sightseeing, Crystal Cove is a nature preserve with some beautiful sights. Overall, Laguna Beach is a beautiful place to visit, with a great variety of places to go to on a week-long trip.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like dedicate my shoutout to my mentors, fellow artists, teachers, and students at LCAD! During my time as an MFA student, the feedback I received from both my mentors and colleagues was invaluable. They really helped me become the artist I am today, and for that I’m forever grateful. As a faculty member, I’ve also learned so much from my colleagues and students at LCAD. The students’ dedication to their education and their artistic development is truly inspiring to me. I’d also like to give a shoutout to my mentors during my time in Puerto Rico – Luis Borrero and Amber Lia-Kloppel. They helped set me on this road and guided me artistically at a time when I really needed that guidance. Thank you so much for your guidance through the years!
Eric Stoner Aixa Oliveras