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Meet Silvana Sipion Garcia of Canislupus133 in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Silvana Sipion Garcia.

Silvana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started art at a young age and, at the time, it was a way for me to be in control of something in my life. Creating stories and building characters in a way that suited what I wanted, when the life around me was more chaotic. In high school, I struggled with taking it seriously because I didn’t have much belief in myself as an artist. For all of us, it’s that feeling of inadequacy, especially when you compare yourself to everyone around you. College was the same dance, the doubt growing larger until I eventually took a semester off to really think about what I wanted. Art became more of a hassle and I struggled with taking joy in it when I wasn’t happy with anything I did. Eventually, it all boiled down to telling myself to at least try because otherwise I would never know.

The uncertainty did have to do with not enjoying my art anymore, but what really helped me were my cultural art history classes. Learning and reconnecting back to my own culture and family history pushed me to think about what I wanted to do with my art, and that meant creating visually thoughtful stories. I was born in Peru but raised in the States and I can recall how much of my own culture I pushed away when I was younger. Taking back my identity and having pride in acknowledging my roots is an important part of what makes my art and work ethic strong. Reclaiming and showing it through my art is my hope in connecting with people who also feel the same.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t because life will always be throwing challenges in your wake. For me, a lot of it now deals in relearning my own self. Having a disconnection from your own culture is difficult because a lot of what I am learning is like looking in as an outsider. Can I truly call myself a Peruvian woman if I don’t know my own culture and country? When I only know parts of it and not the whole? I struggle a lot with feeling like an imposter sometimes, but I then have to acknowledge that it’s not my fault this is my situation. When I see that this disconnection is the same for my parents, it’s evidently clear that cultural assimilation impacts not just my sisters and I. It’s meant to be systematic in a way that is felt through generations. But I always take care to remind myself that I am not alone in my doubts and to be humble for the fact that I am here. Alive and well, breathing and thriving, I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams.

Please tell us more about your art.
My art mostly consists of digital drawings and illustrations that focus on visual storytelling. I also still work with traditional art, gouache painting and inks being my favorite mediums. What I’m most proud of is the directional change and improvement my art has gone through in a few years. What sets me apart is my work that seeks to engage in portraying thought-provoking narratives and people through a centralized focus on culture. Diving into these stories in my pieces to create connections and interest in learning about other cultures.

What were you like growing up?
Interest wise, other than art, I really enjoyed reading high fantasy and sci-fi genre books. Losing yourself in a completely different world made books and video games super fun. I also did a lot of writing when I was a kid, about my own made up stories and books I would publish, but I still keep these interests with me now. As for growing up, I was very much the quiet one in the family as dubbed by my parents, but a lot of that had to do with knowing when not to fight the lost fight. I didn’t stand up to my parents or speak out like I do now, simply because I understood how it would be taken. In a Latino household especially, speaking your mind and opinion out is synonymous with “back talking.” I did come into my own later on during high school, a big influence being YBCA’s Young Artist’s At Work program. It was an art as activism residency that taught us about social injustices and how we can use our voices and art to speak out and radicalize. Both my mentors and fellow artists became such huge pillars of support and inspiration for me, and they still are now. With that came more interest in learning about social justice.

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