Meet the Artist: Jose Juan Lara, Jr.
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Jose Juan Lara is a Project Coordinator for the National Latin@ Network (NLN) of Casa de Esperanza. He generously donated his art piece, Tree of Life, for use in the NLN’s 2018 National Latin@ Institute to be held in New Orleans next week. We asked Jose Juan about his artistry in this Q&A.
When did you start creating art and do you recall why?
I’ve been painting for about eight years and recently expanded to multimedia, but artistic expression has always been part of my life in the form of singing or writing poetry. Painting is just another evolution of my artistic side and, really, didn’t come from any revelation other than I was curious to explore this art form. One day I was talking to a good friend mentioning that I wanted to learn how to paint and vacillating if I should enroll in art classes and complaining about not having enough time, etc. And my friend, in their infinite wisdom, turned to me and said I should just get some brushes, paints and canvas and just do it, and that’s what I did!
What does creating your art pieces mean to you?
I’ve always found this question tricky to answer and, as cliché as it sounds, it depends. Creating art is a form of release. It’s a practice in meditation and patience. The funny part is…in order for this to happen I first must declutter the mind from the busy junk, like the stresses of work and other “stuff” that I think I control! I’ve discovered that while in the middle of translating an idea from my mind onto canvas, I can’t force the image to be — I have to let it happen. As best as I can describe it without getting too existential or weird, the image that is trying to become realized forces me to be present with it and enjoy the moment. I suppose the creation of every new piece of is its own journey.
What medium do you use to create your art?
I started with watercolors and attempted one painting using oils but found that too difficult to engage. After that, I transitioned to acrylic which is easier to use and not having any formal training on the basics of blending paints, well, acrylic seemed like a happy medium between watercolors and oils and more forgiving of any mistakes. Recently, I’ve started to draw using markers and colored pencils and using digital photography to alter the image, which has opened a whole new world!
Would you like to share with us some of what you are trying to express with the images you create?
To be honest…not really. I’m about letting folks decide, or infer, whatever they want or need for their reaction to be to connect to my work. I mean that’s half the fun — seeing how people may respond or their attempts to examine the meaning behind the imagery. And, of course, there’s an expression behind every piece of art that tells on the artist, but I’ll let the eye of the beholder figure that out!
Do you see art as just a form of expression, or also as a means of healing?
I think art offers a variety of possibilities depending on the individual either as a spectator, patron or creator. Art is healing. Art communicates history. Art is cultural wellness. Art is hope. Art is commentary. It’s just so many things that exist in paradigm regardless of its medium or perceived value. It’s a matter of daring to engage and courageous enough to expose oneself as the artist sharing our work! It is a cathartic and risky proposition because I’m opening myself to critique whether it’s from a friend or a public exhibit subject to multiple strangers with varied opinions. That’s the excitement of art!