A few questions with Lucha Rodriguez

Curating and participating in the new exhibition The Brightness

Beep Beep Gallery’s latest group show, The Brightness, studies the relationship between light and color, curated by artist Lucha Rodriguez and with works from Jonny Warren, Bo-ra Choi, and Allen Taylor. As seen in installations around the city at Underground Atlanta, Kai Lin Art, Kibbee Gallery, and Creative Loafing’s own newspaper box, Rodriguez isn’t afraid of using color, mixed media, and layering to create her own visual language. In her new work at Beep Beep, the Creatives Project resident explores a new kind of printmaking using neon colors instead of the usual black tones, which balances well with the rest of the show. Here, Rodriguez talks to CL about challenging herself as an artist and curator, the color pink, and finding a sense of place in Atlanta.

Tell me a bit about the concept behind the show The Brightness.
The Brightness is a collection of artworks that reflect ideas of light through the presence or absence of color. It brings forward the use of color as a common thread that unifies different styles. It acts as an anchor point to jump-start our visual appreciation of the show as a whole. All artists explore the idea of light and color both visually and conceptually.

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What about your experience curating this show and collaborating with three other artists?
The act of presenting art to an audience has always intrigued me, from art making to framing, from promoting to documenting and curating. The main focus for me was to find a concept that could stretch enough to encompass not only my own work but also of a group. It was about finding the core essence of our work and communicating it as a shared experience. In Jonny Warren’s pieces, the exploration starts with black-and-white renderings of flora and fauna and a dominant light source. A single warm accent color is consciously reserved as light source. There’s a clear application of pure color onto the surface. In contrast, there’s Allen Taylor’s work with overloads of color vibrancy and visual rhythm. Your eyes can’t easily find a place to rest in his highly saturated geometric world of visual play and fantasy. And then you have Bo-ra Choi’s psychological depictions of her twin self that include a variety of contrasting patterns and textures surrounded by solid color areas. Her pieces are conceptually shedding intense light to the emotional relationships between herself and the external world. Even though all the styles and mediums were different I think all artists in the show used light in a surreal manner, giving the show consistency.

You’ve worked with different styles of printmaking all while using really bright colors. How did that influence the way you curated the show?
When I started my printmaking studies, it came to my attention that most etchings were done in black ink or sepia tones. I think I started incorporating vibrant pinks and cutting etchings as a way to combine the traditional with my own visual language. Suddenly everything opened up for me, neon screen prints turned into large-scale installations and tiny hand-cut prints started to float over embossed surfaces of paper. Currently, screen-printed neon pinks and yellows have become the dominant elements in my mixed-media pieces. Over time I’ve developed a close relationship with color and it affects the way I appreciate art and the world around me. I feel there’s a deep connection between color and its different meanings that makes people react differently. All the numerous combinations and permutations of color fascinate me. This is the reason why I chose to present The Brightness as an exploration of light and color.

How did you prepare for the show? What inspired you while making your new work?
Creating a new body of work, it’s always exciting for me. The platform is the color pink. Upon that platform I build, play, and explore. For this particular show, with the concept set in place, it was a matter of developing my own ideas around The Brightness and how it plays out within my own visual language. I was inspired by ideas of saturation, invasion of space, repetition, and balance within highly populated areas. The creation of structures on organic entities in constant movement and growth established the direction of this new body of work.

How has your residency with the Creatives Project influenced you?
The Creatives Project has strengthened my sense of belonging and sense of place. Their support motivates me to continue to challenge myself and feel a greater sense of community in the creative field. As an artist, it is extremely rewarding to be presented with opportunities to stay here in Atlanta and continue working toward the creation of art. Programs like TCP foster a great environment for artistic expression by providing not only the space but also valuable interactions needed to spark creative dialogue among artists and their community. I sincerely encourage all artists to become familiar with this nonprofit arts organization and its mission.

How are you challenging yourself as an artist next?
I’m constantly challenging myself with the idea of the “new.” I feel the need to walk through various paths within art. I’m obsessed with the sense of scale, materials, and mediums to express my artistic vision. I literally can’t stay still. I pride myself in showing new efforts to break my previous visual solutions to the connection of the color pink and the idea of the internal. This is why my art includes fashion, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, painting, installation, and sometimes sound. I’m currently exploring the process of art making as a powerful tool that gathers artists and communities. As an artist I feel it’s extremely important to develop your own style and philosophy. Once you have that, it could be applied to any media, any object anywhere and be transformed into an art piece that belongs to a systematic structure that continuously expands through time. I’ve already set the structure in place. It’s only a matter of waiting to see how it all plays out.

The Brightness, a group exhibition featuring Lucha Rodriguez, Jonny Warren, Bo-ra Choi and Allen Taylor, runs through March 22 at Beep Beep Gallery. More details at the gallery.