We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacqueline Alvarino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacqueline, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Approximately five years ago, after struggling with trauma, I decided to pursue painting as a therapeutic pastime—an activity to get me through those difficult days. After a couple years of experimenting with color, media, and application in fine art, I decided to sell my artwork as well as pursue graduate studies within the field of Art History. Not only do I create, but I also study my artistic predecessors in-depth. I also strive to maintain a balance between studio art and academics. Taking elements from both of these fields, I have designed art classes that integrate creative methods, mindfulness techniques, art history and healing rituals. At the end of the day, I want to share my knowledge with others, while demonstrating how art can facilitate introspection, specifically, by making us ponder the relationship we have with other human beings and nature.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Many artists often feel compelled to claim a particular medium or a signature style. However, I continue to experiment with different methods, from painting to collage work, and everything in between. In more recent months, the subject matter of food in art, and the greater theme of commodity fetishism, has increasingly fascinated me. I want to share with you my latest body of work, the Sugar Rush collection, that upcycles trash, specifically used sugar packets. Each collage is comprised of a painted background that matches the color of the sugar packet, as well as several dozen to several hundred sugar or artificial sweetener packets that are meticulously emptied, flattened, and glued to the canvas. The collage is finished off with a decal that parodies the brand of the sweetener. The collection began after evaluating my lifelong addiction to sugar. The very simple question of how much sugar I had consumed in a given period of time compelled me to find the answers through collage work. In doing so, my art touches upon themes of consumerism, pleasure, and the prosperity of our state. The ephemerality of the packets within each painted collage speaks to higher levels about the cycles of consumption. How do we take a product like sugar, an ingredient taken for granted in our socio-economic state, and bring it to the forefront for discussion among audiences? Moreover, with a scholastic background in Latin American/Caribbean history, my previous studies on slavery and the sugar economy in some ways propelled a genuine interest in creating social commentary through art. Each painted collage is a culmination of hundreds of hours of work, and I’m proud to have had the time and stamina to create this entire collection. Although I have not been creating art as long as some of my peers, I believe that my experiences have made me into a versatile artist. I’m branching out into different ventures such as teaching, curating, and mentoring. Naturally, mistakes have been made along the way, but I chalk those up to experience, and I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned. Reflecting on how I started on this path, sometimes I find myself in awe of my growth and development as an artist—it began as a remedy for emotional distress and evolved into a career.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly been a kill joy for sightseeing, and most certainly has stifled LA’s arts culture. I took for granted all the galleries, museums, bars and restaurants I used to visit before the shut downs. I long for the days of making museum visits into day trips, particularly the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which happens to have a large collection of 20th century German fine art, another field of interest in my graduate studies. I enjoyed walking around West Hollywood, Los Feliz and the Fairfax District, visiting landmarks like Canter’s Deli and The Dresden Restaurant & Lounge. With the mandate significantly impacting our ability to view art, dine in, or simply have fun, I would say that walking around the city is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the area. You come across little gems you would have never seen otherwise. I’m not sure what establishments will survive these trying times, but once we reach a post-pandemic phase, I’m curious to see how different planning for a week-long trip will be as opposed to before the outbreak.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
In the Spring of 2019, a group of creatives and I decided to start our own pop up art venue, Low Key Gallery, in Downtown Santa Ana. We knew that each one of us in the collective had something important to contribute to the local arts community, and together we could host gallery shows that would promote artists from all walks of life. Each month we hosted an art show that varied by themes, such as anime, dead celebrities, human sexuality, and skateboard culture, just to name a few. Collaborating on these shows—be it scouting for artists, curating, or installing artworks within a brief turnaround time provided me with skills that I could apply to other creative ventures. Most importantly, these shows provide artists with a supportive and intimate environment. Creatives and spectators alike could hang out and network or talk and learn from one another. It’s a great meeting space to view art, converse, and inspire one another. The part of this venture that stimulates me the most is meeting new artists and connecting them with potential clients or other gallerists—seeing relationships grow and opportunities manifest is so rewarding. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has placed all upcoming Low Key Gallery shows on hold, indefinitely, I am grateful for the 10 months we had together, hosting events as a collective, and developing a niche within our community.
Sugar Rush Collection Image Credits: Everyday Creative Media