At a very young age, Vivian Gutierrez found herself fascinated with poetry, and different art expressions. Her inclination toward the subject of spirituality and respect for women’s strength has always been her main subject and theme. Her preference for this subject has being extremely influenced by her mother’s fight against cancer of 39 years. She is a palette knife artist working with mixed media, oil and other materials. Her paintings and sculptures reflect her perspective on spirituality and women’s inherent qualities. She recently published a book of poems and inspirational writings, titled “Glimpses”. This interview was conducted over email with Liz Baudler.
Liz Baudler: How did you get started as an artist?
Vivian Gutierrez: I wish I had a magical beginning, and could say that I started painting at a young age or came from a family of well-known and talented artists. However, even though I can say that I always had a great interest in art, I started painting to win a bet with my husband. Almost ten years ago, walking through a store, he wanted to buy a painting and I told him not to get it because anybody could paint that, and he bought a canvas and told me “ok, here you go”. And so, for the first time, I ventured into painting. Of course, I learned that even a simple abstract is not as easy to paint. However I think I did a decent job, and became motivated to keep painting. I kept painting to decorate my house, and suddenly I was offered to put my paintings in galleries and I started participating in different exhibits. Since I began, I was always inclined to paint women as the subject or theme of my work. Through the years my art became my biggest teacher. Now that I look back, I can see how it developed in ways that unfolded lessons that brought me into a state of awareness of our divine nature and the feminine energy.
LB: Who or what inspires you?
VG: My inspiration stems from my mother’s life, not only as a human being, but also as a symbol of the feminine principle and her innate qualities of compassion, nurturing and love. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, when I was one year old, and she lived and struggled with cancer for almost 38 years. As a child and also as an adult I observed and absorbed every aspect of her life. Physically, she seemed weak and fragile, and at the same time she had a strength derived from love, empathy and compassion. Frequently, these qualities in her were considered weaknesses and they were belittled by a society overwhelmed by competition and an aggressive strength. That it is how I understood that we had to redefine the meaning of strength. For this we need the feminine aspect, exactly those qualities that I saw in my mother and she did not have the opportunity to empower. This understanding gave me a need or responsibility to reflect and convey, in all my creative processes, those ideals.
LB: Which is easier for you to do, poetry or art, and why?
VG: I believe that everything I do is so different and requires from me such a different disposition. Depending on the mood I am in, or the situation that surrounds me, I choose what to do and therefore they all become easy in a way. Of course, painting is more physical, and since I work with a palette knife I need extended periods of time to be able to finish each layer of my paintings. There is a lot of concentration and active energy flowing. The poetry is very relaxing and meditative, and works well when I am not inclined to stand for too long or I have a need for quiet time and silence. I also work with sculptures and jewelry, and this requires some concentration. However, I still can work on this around my family and merge the process with them.
LB: Which language do you start poems in? Do you think of them in just one language or both?
VG: I always say that the words that I perceive flowing in my mind, for me to catch and put together in this little jar called a poem, come to me in Spanish. Then I go into the conscious process of translating the poems to keep their meaning. My mind’s language is Spanish and still works that way.
LB: How does being bilingual affect your visual art?
VG: I don’t think it does. Maybe there are traces of my culture in my art and my language in the words that I use sometimes in my work. However, it is not easily perceived. I have been blessed with the opportunity to live in different places with different languages and cultures, and in each place I have lived, I learned that we all have the same dreams and needs. Therefore, my visual art and in fact all that I do goes beyond the idea of culture, language or nationality. LB:
How does your identity as a woman affect your work?
VG: It affects it completely. More than that, it is what drives my work. I based my work in the feminine principle and in women’s strength. Each of my works is intended to bring a sense of peace and harmony to the viewer like a mother’s wish to her child. To project the world I would like my kids to live in, I avoid restlessness or aggression in my work. Each of my poems are little jars of words that I keep for my kids to read as they get old enough to understand. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, the one who cries with compassion, and the one who loves and desires a better world for all people, and my work derives from there.
Vivian Gutierrez (http://viviangutierrez.com/ ) was born in Matagalpa, Nicaragua in 1973. In 1980, her family moved to San José, Costa Rica during the Nicaraguan Revolution. At a very young age she found herself fascinated with poetry, and different art expressions. Her inclination toward the subject of spirituality and respect for women’s strength has always been her main subject and theme. Her preference for this subject has being extremely influenced by her mother’s fight against cancer of 39 years.
She is a palette knife artist working with mixed media, oil and other materials. Her paintings and sculptures reflect her perspective on spirituality and women’s inherent qualities. Vivian recently published a book of poems and inspirational writings, titled “Glimpses”. Her book presents a series of poems that takes you through her spiritual quest. They are presented in a descriptive way, to create a picture in which complex spiritual emotions are expressed. Her visual art goes hand in hand with her poems, complementing each other.
She moved to the United States at the age of 26 and has exhibited in Costa Rica, the United States and Mexico. Vivian is an animal lover, a vegetarian and fond of meditation.