Ah, I love thinking about little Adeline, she’s the purest, funniest, most creative part of me that I still carry around and like to reach to whenever life gets too serious. In a way, I reach out to her every time I step into the studio. She reminds me about making with utter authenticity and pure pleasure, to take playing seriously yet judgment-free, which can be so hard. As artists, we are our own toughest critics. I was the kind of child who would spend hours drawing, gathering sticks, leaves, and shells, any odd and not-so-odd object, and collecting them in my little flowery fanny pack. I pretty much still do the same these days – no big changes there – except I now get to be interviewed about it. Little Adeline would be proud hehe!
When did you come to Mexico?
I first came in 2017, my then “friend” Pablo invited me to an artist residency here in Mexico to learn stone carving. He has since become my husband and father of my son and daughter (soon to arrive in February) and Mexico has since then become my home. I have found in this country a warm and welcoming place that marries perfectly my passion for surrealism and my obsession for wonderful stones. You only need to set foot in Mexico once to understand why André Breton called it the most surrealist country in the world. Everyday life here is full of surprises. Mexicans are the kindest and most creative people I know and their land is home to the most incredible variety of marbles, onyxes, volcanic rocks and travertines I’ve ever seen. Never a dull day here.
How does Mexico influence the work you do?
Access to so many wonderful minerals and materials has made it possible for my practice to become more experimental and ambitious, but also Mexico’s rich pre-hispanic history has led me to explore ways to honor their past in my work. Access to so many incredible museums such as the Anthropology Museum and Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli has opened a new awareness of how objects and sculptures shaped the way these pre-hispanic civilizations, the Aztecs, the Olmecs, and many others used to live, think, carve. An essential guide for any sculptor.
Why sculpture? What is it about this medium that speaks to you?
In my twenties, I had already been a painter for quite some time. My technique was improving, but the surface started to lack meaning. What I wanted to ‘say’ quite literally remained on the surface. In 2010, I left London for a bit and spent some time in New York where I instinctively turned to sculpture. I made a body of work using the eggshell as a symbol of rebirth. It was a new beginning for me, and so I humored it by posing the question, ‘Which actually does come first, the chicken or the egg?’ And ironically answering ‘Well, what if it was the egg’. In that series of small sculptures I entitled ‘The Beginning of Everything’, I gave importance and weight to this object, a shell we discard daily so nonchalantly after cooking our morning meal. In one of the pieces, the egg stands tall on a pile of books including Darwin, Aristotle, and even Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde. Since those days, my whole practice still revolves around questioning the notion of the origin: the study of seeds, rock formations, anthropology, etymologies, and now more than ever, ever since becoming a mother, the origin of us human beings, the ovum, the child, motherhood.
As your friend, I know motherhood has a profound effect on you personally. But I also have seen it play out in really profound ways through your work. What shifted in you when you became a mother? What does motherhood look like for you on a daily basis? And what does it look like on a more macro level, for you as an artist?
I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do and to be able to incorporate my personal experiences of bringing up small human beings as part of my daily work. Before having children, I based my research on theories, I’d read a lot of psychoanalysts like Winnicott and Freud and would integrate their findings as part of my work. But now, I get to put into practice the results of my very own experiences. I remember having a really hard time talking about my work after having had my son because it almost felt “too close to home”, there was no longer the comfortable distance between the professional and the personal. At that point, I had made a whole new body of work for my solo show Skin to Skin at Colector Gallery, twenty-something new pieces, and had to get its press release going. At loss for the right words, I found myself stuck and reached out for help to my friend Janila Castaneda, a great writer and founder of Bloque, a publication dedicated to sculpture. Working on this text with her was like learning a whole new language as I felt the vulnerability of constantly failing to find the right words to describe this fine line between my inner world and the outer world. Lots of trials and errors until we finally managed. What a humbling exercise this was.
Also as your friend, I've opened up to you about my own struggles as a mother and the paradox of being a business owner simultaneously — there's so much demand on both ends of your life. Can you talk to me about this? Do you feel pulled in two (or more) directions? If you do how do you work towards peace with this?
I remember asking my mother-in-law about this quite early on. She also works as a sculptor and has two children, including my husband. She told me ‘What’s one or two more sculptures in your entire lifetime? You’ll always have more time later to make more, there’s no rush and making is not about rushing anyways, it’s about living.’ There I had my answer. It does mean it is easy to navigate every day but it helped me set my priorities straight. It is undeniable that I am mad about what I do, I live and breathe my work, and every piece I make is a piece of my journey here on earth, but what is more important in a moment of crisis? My children, it will always be my children who come first, the egg comes first! Their childhood will only last a short season, they grow up so fast. My work will always be ongoing and I’ll always find a way, even invent a new way, of making, if need be. Of course, there are days where I tease myself with the thought of running off to an exciting artist residency in the countryside but then I realize there will still be lots of time for my husband and I to do these once the kids are all big and grown up. Some days are harder and more frustrating than others but there will always be time for everything.
What does having this new space for your work mean to you? It seems significant to renovate a space dedicated entirely to your projects. Does it feel this way?
Oh it’s a dream I have cultivated for years now. To own my very own studio means there is a physical space in which I can fully focus, create a world of my own, and welcome guests. The pandemic has taught me that a studio isn’t an absolute necessity to make work. If you want to make work, all you need is the corner of a table and the most basic of tools. But of course, the more space you have the more the possibilities open up, and multiply. And in this sweet little 1930s house that I found, I can divide each activity per room: the dusty studio, the drawing studio, the showroom, the material library, the storage room, and the packing room. The fact that it is a domestic space means that the house is divided into lots of various small rooms, hence my ability to attribute different purposes to them. The renovation works led by Cada Estudio are ongoing, so I look forward to settling in properly in the new year.
Thank you, Adeline!
Adeline was photographed by Alexia Puga Ramirez Garrido in her studio in Mexico City. She wears the Cropped Tuxedo Shirt, the Tuxedo Pant (sized way up), the Tuxedo Jacket, the Infinity Collar Shirt and the Tuxedo Shirtdress.