By Elly P. ’21
When I found out that my advisor Ms. Bravo had a life outside of teaching Spanish, advising flamenco club, and doling out advice to me, it took me almost a week to recover from the shock. Finding out that the life she leads outside of the hallowed halls of Winsor involved having her own art galleries and selling original works to people almost caused me to drop out of school and question everything I thought knew. Now that I’ve had time to sit with the idea, I’ve deduced that what I can take from this experience is the realization that Ms. Bravo is cool. Very, very cool. She spoke to the Banner about her experiences as an artist, her move from Spain to the U.S., and her biggest pieces of advice for other artists.
- What drew you to art? When did you get interested in art?
When I was a little girl I scribbled, captured, and repeated variations of all that I thought beautiful. It was when I took a technical drawing class in high-school that I discovered concepts that would change the way I look at and understand life in general. Perspective, reflection, rotation, intersection, points, and lines, planes, opposition… what??? It was pure philosophy! It drove me crazy, and to me, then, it explained it all; Nietzsche, Kafka, Shakespeare, my mother… During my last year in high school, I also started experimenting with oil painting and exploring concepts such as value, temperature, medium.
- How has your move from Spain to the US shaped your art?
Spain has always been a deep and ancient well of art to the service of the powerful and also a powerful source of anti-system responses. As a Spaniard, I grew up used to Roman aqueducts next to waxing parlors, medieval castles interacting with Picasso or Dalí sculptures, or Visigoth superpower virgins in fabulous angst next to beaches where all are top-less. Spain is a crazy contrast of cultures, time periods and politics, all in a relatively small space. When I go back to Spain, I spend hours staring at things that when I was younger, I took for granted, such as the color of sunsetting skies in Madrid or people’s noses. When I think about art here in the USA, I think about concepts such as distance, volume, energy, and materials. I love the hugeness of the sculptures and the fields in places like the Storm King Arts Center, for example, or the volume of Noguchi’s work in Queens, or the excess and the combination of materials of the Calatrava World Trade Center Oculus.
- What is the focus of your gallery?
My new gallery is called “Flores a Gogo” which could probably translate as “Flowers Galore”. I am sad and exhausted by the news related to the environment, and I needed to immerse myself in a kind of beauty that has always appeased me; the shape of flowers and their soothing colors. This collection is about exploring the eye of the flower and learning from her wisdom. It will exhibit at the Childe Hassam Park in the South End. I am so excited!
- How did you start doing shows? What other shows have you done?
When I was done with my [art reproduction] years and had a bit more control over my time and energy, I went back to school at Mass Art. As my entire home began to look like a warehouse, my noble friend Rodrigo took one of my paintings to be exhibited in a little gallery in a building in the South End. People liked it, and Rodrigo got another one of my paintings and placed it in another gallery in a wine shop in the South End. I sold it. I really didn’t expect it. I mean, one thing is exhibiting and another to let go of one’s babies… for money. I cried. Last year, I was invited to be part of an art exhibition in the South End’s Childe Hassam Artist Park. I exhibited my work focused on “Jaleo,” a painting of a Flamenco dancer in an impossible pose. That pose obsessed me, so, I spent a year painting variations of the dancer’s pose in oil and also worked with serigraphy [screen-printing].
- Any advice to artists in the Winsor community?
Señoras! All is connected. The arts are what help us expand on our understanding of what we know and what we don’t know. It heals us, it connects us, it makes everything possible because it challenges our definitions of beauty, ugliness, chaos, and order. Remember to defend your time, space and energy to explore art in your busy lives because in art we grow.