Thursday, May 8, 2008

Interview with Ana B. Galano

I love doing these interviews! It means I get to meet all kinds of cool people from across the world and understand more deeply how people use creativity to explore and interpret their lives...talented, introspective artists, like Ana. It's with great pleasure I bring you this interview.

Ana is a Cuban-American visual artist born and raised in Miami, Florida of Cuban parents. She has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in painting and played an integral role in establishing the Graham Center Art Gallery at Florida International University. The Graham Center Art Gallery provides a venue for the university students and the community to display their artwork. For six years, Ana was the gallery manager: curating innovative and educational exhibits of faculty, student and visiting artists, implementing community outreach exhibits with Miami-Dade schools, and creating an annual exchange with the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

During her time in Alabama, Ana worked with visual arts faculty and students on various projects, including the 2005 "Arty Party" fundraiser and restoration of the sculpture graduate studios. Work from her "Alabama Bible Series" is included in the Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible Project and her Polaroid's have also been selected for inclusion in Polarama, a United Kingdom based web gallery.

Ana now lives and works in Florida and is the creative inspiration behind her online gallery, Ana B. Galano and Etsy shop, "An'a'mano. An'a'mano combines her name (Ana) and spanish translation of "by hand" (a mano).

Along with painting, Ana works with mixed media. "I think it's better when the idea dictates which medium will best represent it. I do tend to prefer water-based media (watercolor, liquid acrylics, ink) and have recently, within the last couple of years, developed a love for digital illustration." She uses Corel's Painter and Paint Shop Pro. "I also use the written word (poetry)."

Depending on what is going on in her life, Ana delves into subjects such as identity, self-awareness, carnal repression, spirituality, body consciousness, memory recollection and other personal issues. "My artwork allows me to analyze my life experiences within the safety of symbolism, layers and hidden meanings, through narrative and the use of different mediums. By exposing and then attempting to understand that which would normally have remained unspoken and unrevealed, I permit my inner world to come to the surface."

"I am influenced," Ana continues, "by my surroundings, events, people, life experiences, etc. All of these affect me and therefore my work. Through the art and the process, I am able to communicate what I'm thinking, feeling, dreaming, etc. For me, this is a more accurate means of expression, because it's pure, honest, unadulterated. And, hopefully, the viewer connects with the underlying message."

Ana's process is primarily an intuitive one. "I surround myself with the materials I'm working with, then step into that zone, where creativity and imagination reside. There are usually no pre-conceived ideas or imagery and quite often I am surprised, amused and pleased with the outcome. This way of working assures I will discover the truth I'm searching for."

"My work is ultimately...about me," Ana continues. "About my trying to figure out who I am, where I've come from, where I'm going: all those questions that, I'm assuming, everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives. I use art to find those answers. I am able to communicate visually that which I am not able to do verbally: a dialogue with myself and those who view the work."

When Ana is having artist's block, she looks at the work of other artists she loves. "Doing that usually has two effects. First, I am thoroughly disgusted with myself and my work, lol, and ALWAYS question what the heck I'm doing and how dare I call myself an Artist." She is the self-appointed queen of self-sabotage! "But, eventually that wears off and something within me gets inspired and I start to think: hey, my work is just as good...let me do a drawing or something. By that time, I usually can get into a good rhythm and everything works out, until the next block."

"I've been dealing with depression for over 15 years." Ana offers. "I get into those moods where everything is bleak and dark and there doesn't seem to be any hope...well, those days ARE difficult. But at some point (thank goodness) I begin to notice the birds singing or the fluttering butterflies or notice the pretty colors of the flowers or the puffy clouds in the sky and that is when I know that it will be ok. Nature has become an important part of my life in recent years. I've gotten into gardening which has replaced my meditation (and it's just as effective for me)."

Ana admits to being a bit of a word nerd. Her favorite types of books are dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias (any reference books). "I can't live without these! The MUST HAVE art book for every artist is the Art Spirit by Robert Henri. You want to talk about inspirational? THAT will do it for you...I promise." She also listens to music from Metallica to Chopin and everything in between.

As to what shoes Ana wears? "Cute, but VERY comfy loafers...soft and cushioned (practical), but with a girly design (feminine)."

For more information about Ana and her work, please visit her website, shop, and blog. She also has a crafts shop that is fun to visit.

Ana is a member of the following groups:

College Art Association (CAA)
Florida Etsy Street Team (FEST)
Visual Artists Street Team (VAST)
Phi Kappa Phi (an honor society to which Ana was initiated during her graduate studies)

Ana's participated in the following Artist Exhibitions:

2007 - "1st Annual International Cultural Exchange", Inverrary Hotel, Lauderhill, Florida (Group)

2007 - TAO em Brasil, Casarao das Artes, Suzano, Sao Paolo, Brasil (Group)

2004 - "On the Twelfth of February: A Reaction to a Moment in Time", Graham Center Art Gallery, Florida International University, Miami, Florida (Solo)

2003 - "Eve in the Garden", Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, Miami Beach, Florida (Solo)

2002 - "Uncommon Marks," Graham Center Bookcases, Florida International University, Miami Florida (Solo)

Ana just received news one of her pieces was accepted in a juried exhibition:

2008 - "29th Annual Mini-Works on Paper Exhibition, Hammond Hall Gallery, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama

1 comment:

Jean Levert Hood said...

wonderful article, Janyce. It was a delight to learn about Ana.