An alternative to irrelevance
Pasatiempo: Did you grow up in an artistic family? Alima Lopez: Yes. My father sets tile for homes and does mosaic tile work. My mother is a dancer. My older brother is a glass blower in San Francisco, and my older sister is a fashion designer in New Orleans. I have another brother who’s in medical school. Pasa: So someone in your family is on track to make money. Lopez: Well, somebody has to! But I think art is a unique discipline; you have an emotional attachment to it, unlike so many other fields of study. Pasa: But that emotional connection can be difficult. Lopez: Figuring out what I’m studying and where it’s all tied to my emotional being— that’s the challenge. In art, it’s all on an individual’s shoulders. On top of that, others are saying, “Why are you taking art? You need to take at least one business course just in case.” Pasa: And what is your contingency plan? Lopez: I thought about art therapy or art education as possible careers outside my art. Pasa: Apart from your creative family, what else got you interested in art? Lopez: Art really helped me in high school. It kept me away from doing drugs, bad situations, and kept me in contact with good people. It uplifted me and took my mind off of petty, ultimately irrelevant things that young people tend to do. I also draw inspiration from my friends, just being with them and being part of a social group that is interested in art. Pasa: Any particular artists, living or dead, whose work you admire, art that informs your own? Lopez: I like Egon Schiele for his emotional edge and how he disfigures the human form in all the right ways. Dalí was mind-blowing. I love how he could present what was in his mind. I also like Ansel Adams’ black-and-white photography for its classic beauty. Pasa: Describe your work. Lopez: I’ve always been into mixed media, and I’ve explored photography. After high school, I did more painting and drawing. I also did production sewing, fashion, and costume design just to learn the trade. I’ve also spent a lot of time learning the human figure, something all artists should know. One might say my art is all over the place, but it usually comes back to the Twenty-year-old Santa Fean Alima Lopez is a fine-arts student at The University of New Mexico, works locally at La Boca restaurant, interns at SITE Santa Fe, and still finds time to pursue her artwork. In 2007, she was awarded a Rotary Foundation for the Arts scholarship and was honored by the Santa Fe Arts Commission with the Melissa Engestrom Youth Artist Award. She carved out time to speak with Pasatiempo at a local restaurant. grotesque and romance. I’ve always been drawn to a kind of dance between the mysterious and the beautiful. Pasa: Where are you with your studies at UNM? Lopez: I’m a sophomore. I went to Portland State University for art and transferred back to UNM. Portland has a great underground art scene, where artists sometimes take over an entire street and show their work. I can’t say Santa Fe is that kind of city. It has a different approach to art. Pasa: Do you find Santa Fe supportive of young artists? Lopez: My experience is that Santa Fe has been very embracing and supportive of young artists. But I feel that art programs here are more geared for high-school students. Santa Fe is not supportive of, say, street art or guerrilla art. But I am very grateful for what this city has given me. I’ve found my little niche. Pasa: When you graduate, will you stay in Santa Fe? Lopez: I’ll probably go away, at least for a while. I’ve spent my life in this town and feel I should branch out. I’ve never been out of the country in my life, except for Juárez when I was little. So I’m hoping to raise enough money to go to Rome through UNM’s art-history study program, which would allow me to take art classes there. I’ve always dreamed of Europe. I’m also considering grad work in San Francisco, and I would like to spend time in New Orleans, where there’s a lot of community outreach opportunities where people make art. Pasa: Where will you be and what might you be doing in five to 10 years? Lopez: I have no idea. I’m not a planner. I like to know what I’m doing right now. But Santa Fe will always be my home.
Graphite figure study (work in progress) by Alima Lopez