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  • Lidy Henry

An interview with Victoria Marie Barquin

Describe your typical week – in the studio, at home, other activities?

My typical week is a mix of work and studio time. I recently started a new part-time job at a cleaning company, which has provided me with a flexible schedule and financial stability. Tuesday through Friday I clean homes and apartments, which allows me to dedicate every Monday to being in the studio. Saturday and Sunday are usually a combination of studio time, seeing friends, and relaxing at home. I’ve been trying to prioritize a healthy work-life balance, which is something that I haven’t focused on in the past.

Describe your influences – what sources or artists do you look to for inspiration?

As most artists, I am influenced by a lot of things I encounter daily: signage, bad design, memories, buildings, people. Then, I try to look at art as much as I possibly can. For me, this means attending gallery openings and events, thumbing through Juxtapoz, scrolling on Instagram, and talking to artist friends. This past summer I was in Spain on a travel grant I received from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where I graduated from in 2016 with a BFA in Printmaking. During that trip, I became particularly enthralled by Antoni Tapies, Pello Irazu, Luis Gordillo and Rufo Criado. I came across their work in museums and galleries throughout Northern Spain and I’m still looking at their work a lot now. Some artists I’ve been inspired by for a long time are Matisse, Sonnenzimmer, Elizabeth Corkery, Dan Boardman, Alexander Valentine, and Catarina Coelho.

Where is your studio, and what does it look like? How do you find materials and resources to make work?

I am currently renting studio space at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative in Lincoln Square. The benefit of renting space here is that I also gain 24/7 access to CPC’s wonderful print facilities. The studio space is small—about 9 x 7 feet—but is perfectly sized for my needs. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have my own space to hang things up on the wall and observe works-in-progress from a distance. I primarily fund my materials and resources by working part-time. I am also constantly on the look out for fellowship and grant opportunities. I received a significant grant from MassArt during my senior year, which allowed me to spend a summer in Spain and conduct a month-long residency. In this case, my materials and resources were funded by the grant.

How do you balance your art practice with other jobs, art or non-art related?

I’ve always found it a challenge to balance my art-making with other work and life obligations. Currently, having three days during the week open for studio work is really great. But I’ve also had the experience of working full-time and interning on the weekends—leaving very little time for the studio. I’m always searching for more balance, but something that has helped me work towards that is identifying priorities. I think that’s a good place to start.

What opportunities for professional development have been most helpful to you?

I feel very fortunate to have had so many professional development opportunities throughout my time at MassArt. As the Student Government Representative for the Printmaking Department, I coordinated a trip to the Southern Graphics Council International Conference—an annual event where dialogue and techniques are exchanged among printmakers. At the conference, my peers and I participated in a print exchange with other attendees, which was a really great experience in creating a professional edition. Print exchanges are always great--I'm participating in two more right now, one being organized by Spudnik Press and the other at CPC. Through MassArt I also had the opportunity to serve as a print assistant to Alison Elizabeth Taylor in the 2016 MassArt Master Print Series. Gaining experience working alongside established artists is an immeasurable experience and I would encourage all artists to look out for those opportunities. I assisted Susan Metrican while I was a student at Boston and that was a significant experience for me.

What does your research process look like before or during a project?

I tend to research and write a lot before I begin making. This helps me solidify my concept and intent. As I start making, more ideas come up and I go research those. Sometimes the end result isn’t quite what I expected—maybe the work takes a slight turn conceptually. If so, I’ll dive back into research and writing to see how the work could continue in a new direction.

Can you share your process of getting your work out in the world? (types of venues, exhibition planning process, etc.).

It’s hard! Getting my work into the world is something I’m always thinking about and working towards. I check Chicago Artist Resource and Call for Entry regularly for open calls and other artist opportunities. Another great resource for print-interested people located in the Chicagoland area is the Chicago Printers Guild! They are a non-profit trade organization that hosts monthly meetings at various print shops and artist studios throughout the city. Members of the guild are included in an email group, which has been a significant resource for staying up to date on local events and opportunities. That said, the greatest resource for me, since graduating from school and moving to Chicago, has been joining a communal print studio. In becoming a member at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, not only have I been able to put my work in front of an audience by participating in group exhibitions and projects, but I’ve gained access to an incredible community of other passionate printmakers.

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