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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
Visual artist, Darice Polo, is a calm force in the Cleveland arts and Puerto Rican communities. Quietly and diligently for the last several years, she has been building A Wise Latina Woman, her personal film essay. The piece focuses on her cultural history, as well as the story of the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic heritage, Sonia Sotomayor. “I’m using the film as an educational platform and as a learning tool. My primary goal is to educate and unite people.” She continues to build on this narrative and footage in a return journey she has planned to Puerto Rico in the upcoming months. “My work on this film has really intensified since hurricane Maria. It will be very emotional for me,” she says. Her previously recorded footage, which she collected prior to the devastating natural disaster, has become precious material in the creation of this piece and a direct link between artist and ancestral birthplace.
A similarly subtle sense of determination can be seen in her two-dimensional works; exquisitely rendered, somewhat mysterious reproductions of family photographs, that become almost physical visualizations of memory. Though recently, she’s made an aesthetic shift in her drawings, producing text-heavy, almost text-dominated pieces for exhibitions at SomeTime Gallery and SPACES Gallery. The dramatic shift for Polo is the result of a variety of environmental and circumstantial factors, including her own personal research, the current political climate and her experience at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington DC. At the march, she recalls, “thousands and thousands of these posters that people had made were dumped and piled in front of Trump Tower. It was a really powerful statement.” The concept of statements of resistance was in the foreground of her ideas for new work.
Q. Describe your work briefly.
A. Over the past decade my work has primarily explored the history of the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York. As a visual artist this exploration has taken shape through the process of drawing, painting and digital video. In the film I am currently producing, I am sharing my personal history and that of Sonia Sotomayor as a way to discuss and preserve the history of Puerto Rico for Puerto Ricans, their descendants and the world community.
Q. How were you introduced to your craft?
A. I never stopped drawing and painting since the age of ten. It was a natural progression for me to develop my craft and I have done so throughout my adulthood as a student and professional. More recently I have applied my knowledge of photography to digital video and taken advantage of new technology and the affordability of full frame digital cameras to make an independent film.
Q. Who are your long-standing influences?
A. There have been many influences throughout my career at different phases. In addition to the affect of their work, they taught me how to create a sustainable life for an artist to exist in. They are a combination of writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers and visual artists: Anais Nin, Mahatma Gandhi, Adrienne Rich, Yoko Ono, Georgia O'Keeffe, Virginia Woolf, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Gerhard Richter, Vija Celmins, Philip Guston, Akira Kurosawa, Agnes Varda, Arthur Rimbaud, Luis Camnitzer, Frida Kahlo and Ruperto Udenburgh (my grandfather).
Q. Describe your idea of artistic success.
A. Artistic success is the ability to express experience to a broad audience and generate open dialogue. An artist's longevity and maturity of expression ripened over a lifetime is invaluable and presents to the audience a roadmap to a deeper understanding of themselves.
Q. What is your process for generating new ideas?
A. I follow my inner voice and allow a body of work to inform the next body of work. It is important for me to listen to my intuition and investigate different methods and ideas to create my work. By researching the history of themes and art making that are relevant to my work, I am able to generate a wealth of ideas that point me in the direction I need to go.
Q. How do you feel your work affects your audience? (and/or) How do you
want your work to affect your audience?
A. Like all artwork should, it affects the audience in many different and unexpected ways. An artist cannot calculate or determine the affect. My hope is that the work surprises and engages the viewer to contemplate the meaning ingrained in the work.
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