Angelica Raquel is an artist living and working in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Angelica was born and raised in the border city of Laredo until she relocated to San Marcos, where she earned a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Texas State University.
Why did you become an artist?
Like many other folks, I grew up drawing and constantly painting, specifically dinosaurs and dragons, and illustrating little short stories I would write. My family really supported my love of making art, and they helped foster my interests. I didn’t want to become an artist growing up, I believe with all the societal pressures I had convinced myself to set on studying to become a zoologist and enter a career path in the sciences. When I first began my undergraduate career, I started with a Biology major and Art minor. I did well in my classes, but I felt a more definite conviction for the arts that really made me question my future. I had a lot of support from my family, and I felt it was time to devote myself entirely to this passion.
Where do you get inspired the most?
My inspiration has always come from an intense wonder and admiration with the natural world, more specifically animals and folklore. My childhood was spent either drawing or outside with my older cousins exploring the monte and ranches we had access to. My family is also very spiritual, and our ritual when we gathered was to tell stories of ghosts, lore, and mysterious experiences. I feel there is magic in this world, many people have forgotten, and I try to grasp back at my roots and my family’s shared past and culture. I also really just love animals, I almost spent the rest of my life studying them, so reading on zoological essays and research really enriches my work -their behavior is not so far from the human animal.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To not be afraid to make work that relates to myself. When I started my Art Major as an undergraduate, I really focused on trying to have a sound concept revolving around the study of animals that had more scientific research behind it. That was all well and good, but it was missing that spark. I tried to push my work away from my personal life, I never wanted it to be about me. Still, in doing so, there was a stagnant nature that prevented the viewer from ever really connecting with it beyond a superficial level. It wasn’t until graduate school that I realized the importance of that connection and the importance of my own background as a woman, Latina/Hispanic, and being born and raised in Laredo, Texas. The specificity that is culture is what makes it universal, and that is fascinating.
What’s the worst advice you’ve received?
To stop making work about what I was passionate about and explore other concepts. I say this is the worst, but it was simultaneously very good advice because I truly realized that none of my interests were ever phases, and I had a real conviction.
What is something you learned after your first artwork critic?
You will never please everyone, and you shouldn’t try either. That is a mental game you will never win, and besides, we make work for ourselves if it’s genuine. If you make work for the “likes” ha, then you are sacrificing something -that something is different for everyone, I suppose, but for me, it’s the soul of the work. We all enjoy the gratification of reassurance that what we do is enjoyed or inspiring to others, but in a culture that has a collective short attention span due to social media and the constant flood of visuals, that superficial feeling won’t last long.
What are some of the art trends you might agree/disagree with?
Hmm, there isn’t a specific trend I disagree with. I think art is constantly evolving and reaching back to old traditions and craft that is absolutely beautiful. Contemporary art blows my mind, I cannot say exactly how grateful I am to live in this time and have the ability and resources to make art. My only grief is when artists make “art” for followers or likes, it becomes more of a gimmick at that point.
How do you find comfort in your art community in times of uncertainty?
As an artist, I feel it’s incredibly important to be tied to an art community. Part of the reason I chose to move to San Antonio and study at UTSA for graduate school was through researching the faculty who are active artists and seeing the types of galleries that existed here. I find comfort in my friends and peers who are all artists here in town, and learning and leaning on each other are important. It’s a very supportive art community, and it’s very unique!