By Ily Goyanes, Mon., Oct. 18 2010 @ 10:00AM
In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens November 25, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
Photo courtesy of Vanessa Garcia
If she hadn't become a vegetarian at the age 12, writer and visual artist Vanessa Garcia would be expressing herself via soufleés and wine sauce reductions instead of through words, canvas, and theater. She was lucky to have a Cuban/Spanish grandfather who exposed her to life's necessities at an early age. "I'm really glad that my grandfather is the type of person that puts knowledge on par with bread--you need them both." When they weren't drinking Cuban coffee and making aioli and baguettes from scratch, Vanessa's grandfather was teaching her about Picasso and Shakespeare. Years later, Garcia graduated from Columbia University summa cum laude, majoring in both English and art history. She returned home for her master's of fine arts in creative writing from the U and is now earning her PhD at the University of California, Irvine.
Photo by Tomas Bertelsen
Vanessa with Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka.
These days, Vanessa makes her way from coast to coast, jetting between Los Feliz, California and Miami, which she describes as "one of the most wonderful places to live." Although, she can call anywhere home, the writer/artist has traveled the world, from Japan to Ghana, picking up "a global vocabulary that informs her work--both written and visual." Her plays have been performed at the Arsht Center (Model City) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as well venues in New York and Amsterdam (Two Islands: Island Blogosphere & The Jewish Nun). Her fiction and non-fiction work has been published in everything from daily newspapers to esteemed literary journals. But it doesn't stop there. Her multifaceted artwork has been displayed everywhere from Art Basel to San Francisco and from Wynwood to New York. She continues to "mix beats with brushes and curtain calls" as director of The Krane, her theater/arts company.
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1. List five things that inspire you.
The answer to this questions is always in flux, depending on what's immediately around, what kind of elements, books, words, paintings, songs, are around me at one particular moment. David Foster Wallace is really doing it for me lately.
I've also been listening to "Night Moves" by Bob Seger on repeat in my car, which I think is such a great song. I can go on and on about it, believe me.
But, you know, I think the most important thing is not to let the "idea" of inspiration get in the way. I think working and working consistently is the most important thing. To just sit down and work, on writing, or painting, or theatre, or whatever it is that's pulling at me at the time. In other words, I really believe that if you sort of stand around waiting to be inspired, you'll lose your inspiration.
2. What was your last big project?
The most recent was a play called Island Blogosphere, which went up in Miami, NYC, and then the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It was about a Cuban blogger named Yoani Sanchez, a blogger who I think is incredibly brave and incredibly interesting in terms of Cuban politics and the possibilities that the internet provides in terms of liberating a people who are chained down by a government who controls the media and all other journalistic outlets. She's being threatened in Cuba and I think it's an incredibly relevant topic in terms of the new Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate who just received the Nobel while still in prison in China, and who is fighting for a kind of democracy in China.
3. What's your next big project?
My next big project is a book of creative non-fiction about America's place in the world today, but it's looked at through a cultural lens--includes pop culture etc. It's called Statements and I have a feeling it's going to take a while to write. It's not a "history" book, it's more about smaller, cultural connections that can shed light on the bigger picture. I also want to keep working on the Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, her story, her writing, the ideas behind what she's doing in and for Cuba. I don't know if this will take the form of a documentary or further development of the play I already begun, the one that went to Edinburgh, or something else, that is still being worked out. I have other things brewing, but that's the bulky stuff.
4. Why do you do what you do?
I never know how to answer this question. Part of me wants to say I didn't have a choice because sometimes it feels that way. That you have a kind of "calling," something that chooses you. But, at the same time, we really do choose, daily, what we do. I mean that's what makes us human, right? And so I do what I do because I am in ever-awe of art, it's power, its ability to change and record and illuminate the world in which we live. I'm an artist because I believe in constant charge art provides in the world and what that electric charge can do, the waves it can make.
5. What's something you want Miami to know about you? What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
I think Miami is one of the most wonderful places to live, work, and simply be. Sometimes I'm driving down the causeway on my way to the beach and I think, this place is paradise, it really is. I'm so lucky. And I want Miami to know how grateful I am to her, how much I love her.
Something I don't want Miami to know -- I guess I wouldn't tell you what I really don't want Miami to know...but, if you mean something embarrassing, hmm, let's see. I'm a total nerd, but I think most people already know that.
About Vanessa Garcia
Vanessa Garcia is a writer and mulit-media artist