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Art & Life with Cynthia Luján

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Luján.

Cynthia , please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 11 (my dad was really into politics), a nurse when I was 13 (I’ve always had an urge to want to help people), and then I turned 14 and in September walked into an art club meeting and all that traditional “do-gooder” job stuff got shot to hell 🙂 The second I walked in there, I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else. The way people expressed themselves so genuinely and were accepting of each other’s individuality made me dive nose first into a world I can now never see myself stepping foot out of. Simultaneously, I also felt a void, and felt like I had years to make up for the fact that I never made much art before I turned 15, nothing other than teaching myself how to sew or crafting handmade boxes for friends to hold their birthday gifts in.

I took my first 3 art classes my last year in high school, became art-club president, wrote my senior thesis on the influence visual communication has had on society throughout history, in tandem, did an art project influenced by street art, and ultimately also took art portfolio development classes at a private school in Arcadia on the weekends and Friday nights. I felt like I had so much time to make up for, and like I needed to refine my skill sets before entering an art program in art school. I’ve always been hard on myself when it comes to making sure I feel prepared to take on the next step. I always want try to verify that I’ve check all my blind spots and haven’t missed something. I also find that, that’s also why I’m my worst enemy, because I don’t give myself any slack or leave myself any room for error. Work ethic is something I’ve learned a lot about through my artist practice. It sucks when you let others down, but it feels worse when I let myself down.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m a visual interdisciplinary artist who makes objects, primarily photographs, paintings and some low-relief sculpture. I learned early on that I’m an observer and that my perspective is limited in my individual understanding and experiences through life–I’ve always thought this was a gift and a curse. I started off making art by carrying a camera with me and archiving moments in time. I’m now a trained observation list, both with a brush and a camera. I’m also a trained colorist and adore a very specific type of saturated red-orange.

In my artwork I want to challenge viewers and their respective innate bias’ with images that invert the dynamics of power. I do this by utilizing imagery I find in public spaces such as traffic cones, caution signs, public signage, etc. Through images, I decipher social constructions, territorial boundaries, and urbanites performance through social public spaces. My artwork interrupts and interprets the authority commanded by inanimate objects (i.e.: traffic cones, traffic signs), by suturing images I’ve photographed of public spaces, or by creating signs akin to ones we see on a daily basis while driving through LA.

No matter what–LA will always be home and I love LA, but I’ve had the opportunity to travel abroad to metropolis’ in Russia, China, Japan and Guatemala; overtime I’ve identified some negatives about home. Through traveling I’ve realized, my work seeks to diminish the distance and borders we innately tend to create in public and social spaces. This distance creates a lack of trust and curiosity, lack of patience and empathy, leading us as urbanites to foster a lazy desire in achieving a deeper understanding of the places and people we interact with in public space on a daily basis. These human experiences of alienation and performance propel me to investigate the attributes and influence that social public spaces have on us. Also, I have an obsession with traffic cones. I religiously take photographs and archive them, and also have received photographs from friends all over the world. I just recently started painting pixelated cones to try and shine light on the power they have on us. Cones have this dualistic and dynamic quality, that of a denier and a protector of space. Through looking at my art, I want people to realize the power public spaces have over us, and the power we innately have, yet tend to not tap into, over those same social public spaces.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
Respect. I think it has been and continues to be a struggle to get Americans on board of the idea to elevate the value of art in our culture. I think it’s mainly due to how young our country is, but there’s really no excuse for why we don’t find more ways to integrate visual and performing arts into more of our day-to-day existence. I think we would be that much happier as constituents of this country when making the change to take more pride in our multifaceted arts communities. I just hope as time progresses, we elevate the value of the arts in America. Being an artist isn’t just solely about creating, it’s a lifestyle, it’s just a part of my everything; how I interact with and treat people, how I plan for things, how I learn, how I experience, how I heal, how I have gained a greater drive for living and being.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I like to stay busy, and I am usually in a show somewhere in greater LA and I am always looking to see where I can find more opportunities teaching painting. You can find events where I am exhibiting or teaching workshops on my website at www.CynthiaLujan.com/events.

If you want to see what I am currently working on, I am always on Instagram. My handle on there is @desfigurados (www.instagram.com/desfigurados), which means “disfigured” in Spanish. Feel free to come check out my work in person at an alternative art-space in North Long Beach that I co-run called __flatline. I have my art studio headquartered out of there and there is always something new I have cooking in the studio (we’re also on Instagram, www.instagram.com/__flatline).

Please check out my solo show titled SHIFTING SPACE in Downtown LA at gallery Metro 417 up until May 8 (https://www.cynthialujan.com/events/2018/4/12/shifting-space). I have a few paintings in a group exhibition on the theme of color opening up on May 5 titled Color Visions in Orange County at the Huntington Beach Art Center that will be on view (https://www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org/color-vision.html). I am also a part of a group show opening up with FA4 Collective next year in April 2019 at Angel’s Gate Community Art Center in San Pedro and will be creating an art installation with traffic cones!

Last but not least, please follow my hashtag #cautiondimlessdim where I archive traffic cones on Instagram! Feel free to use the hashtag on any cones you find, take pictures, and post, as well! (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/cautiondimlessdim/).

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Cynthia Lujan

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