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Rocío Arena — What's Real And What Could Be

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Meet Rocío Arena:

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she is a keen and passionate self-taught artist and a lifelong learner. Finding it difficult to define her artistry in just one direction, she has found her place as a visual artist. For several years now she has explored the plastic and tangible world in pursuit of mutable forms of expression by sharing thoughts and ideas through clay up to animation and digital collage.

Even in the era of social networks and maximum exposure, she thrives on creating visuals that cross the intimate, the real, the expression, and complicity. Her biggest goal is to generate a visual harmony with vivid colors that alter reality and bring the viewer closer to the art of everyday life with a surreal perspective.

We caught up more with the artist to hear her thoughts on the ups/downs of being an independent artist, female empowerment, and future projects with the creator.

If you had to describe your artistic voice, what would that voice sound like? What messages do you convey to women in/with your work?

I think my artistic voice is a strong, raw, genuine voice, very sensitive, and at times aggressive. I feel that more than a communicator, I am a medium, I try more than anything to reflect what the women's collective is manifesting. I do not believe that I am a single voice, but rather that I am the constant and changing result of all the women and dissidents that are around me, that I hear, speak, see and feel. From friends, co-workers, people I meet at a protest to what I see in the media.

What moment did you know being creative was the life path for you?

I think from a very young age I knew that I wanted to develop my creative side. I understand creation as a game, something that many of us have the privilege of enjoying during our childhood. I feel that from a very young age I was aware that in adulthood "the game" is lost, one must become "serious", and that never identified me, in fact, I was afraid of losing that innocence and lack of structure when playing, that is why when I dedicate myself to my leisure spaces today, I always refer to “I'm going to play for a while”.

As a woman and artist, one of the constant challenges I try to face is louder our voices so they have the same exposure as others. From inclusive language to the pressure exerted on our bodies and choices, I take a stand and use my art as a form of political and cultural struggle. My language is restless, as is the world we live in today.

Being an artist isn't an easy life, it definitely comes with its number of challenges.

What some challenges that you've faced and how did you overcome them?

As I mentioned earlier, I think that one of the main (if not the first) challenge of being an artist is to give shape and structure to the reality of wanting to be an artist and not die trying.

During my adolescence, I tried to follow the path that was established, I studied and spent several years being a lawyer, since what I considered my vocation was marked by many as a “hobby”. It took me many years to assume and value what I wanted so much to be, that on the other hand I had no idea how to start. Luckily, and after a lot of personal work, I decided to put an end to that agony (I felt it that way) and start from scratch, without any references or close antecedents, to travel the world that today brought me here, and I hope it takes me to places that today I do not imagine.

What topics are you most passionate about?

I think that at this moment I am very challenged by the feminist struggle (including all minority spaces such as the LGBTI + and black community), so I try every time I can participate from the place that is necessary to claim rights, claim and show the historical, cultural, political, and economic inequalities that exist not only in my city and country but throughout the world. Clearly, there is something that has to change, which has already expired, every act, personal or public, is and has to be political and the exit is collective.

Name 3 of the biggest women influencers in your life? How do they influence you professionally?

I believe that where I am I owe it entirely to the women of my family, mainly to my mother, aunt, and cousin who, from their unconscious place, not only opened the a way for me to a world of creativity and sensitivity, but are also people who at the time and education they had, they could never dedicate themselves to what they were really passionate about, in fact, I think that only today they are seeing viable that one can live on something that they love.

Since I was little, I saw in their homes and their works the art of the manual, from clay, decoration, clothes, and design, to the solidarity with which they worked as a team and always supported each other. All of this shaped me as a person and of course, fervently influenced my profession and the way I work today.

If you could collaborate with any women, past or present, who would it be and why?

I feel that there is no single name with whom I would like to collaborate, I believe that any woman from the past and even the present is constantly fighting battles to be able to raise her voice and make a space in her field. I particularly feel a great interest in the Argentine plastic artist Lola Mora who was a pioneer (and of course criticized) in the role of a woman in the art of our country. On the other hand, as a current reference I would love to meet the philosopher Judith Butler, a great reference of current feminism and queer theory.

What's next for you as a creator? 2021 and beyond?

If I am clear about something, it is never to feel that I have done enough. I understand that the path as an artist is to never stop creating, studying, researching. I also feel that when one begins a journey as an artist, one cannot be away from what is happening around us, from being alert to the claims that we have next to us. Of course, it is impossible to be on all fronts, but as sensitive beings, creators, and perceivers of the reality that we are, I understand that we have an obligation to make all that we notice visible and not just stay with the "aesthetic".

Finish the sentence: Women are the...?

In my city we use a phrase that says "Today more than ever, we are the scream of those who are no longer here...we are people fighting and demanding for what corresponds to us and they took us away."

What are you looking forward to post-quarantine?

I hope that at least in my city we can meet again, socialize and share spaces so together with other artists, we can continue to create collectively. I understand that collectively is the only way to criticize, modify and grow as an artist to give more space in our city to all who, without privileges, are in each home without being able to show their art, without being able to relate to others and without being able to access training tools. We live in cities where there are practically no state budgets to generate public resources at the service of the community, and if there are, they have little visibility or budget.

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