On the Crafts of Communication and Creating Identity With Artist Lydia Cecilia

The artwork of Lydia Cecilia is replete with colour, texture and narrative, in a language all her own: one fashioned out of repurposed printed materials and items found in nature.

The Vancouver-based artist, who is originally from Sevilla, Spain, is one of a line-up of fourteen participants in the Neighbourhood Pop-Up Shop, happening this weekend. To get up close with her artwork, be sure to RSVP to the February 13th event here. Follow her on Instagram here.

Can you describe your art in 10 words or less?

My analog collage artwork explores ideas of gender and identity.

How do you find your materials?

The search for materials for my work is a very important part of my creative process and one that I deeply enjoy. Some of the materials that I use the most in my work are erotic images from vintage magazines that I gather in different second hand bookstores and in markets around the city. That component of reuse of materials as well as the new meaning of the images that result from these magazines is part of what I love about collage.

Before focusing on being an artist, you were pursuing Physics — that’s quite a big change! How does your scientific background influence your artwork or process?

I believe that my scientific background is perfectly complemented and understood by collage, mainly due to its capacity for abstraction, allowing to decompose very complex problems, difficult to understand at first, into simpler elements that, when put together, are capable of creating an image of a complexity much greater than the sum of those initial elements. This capacity for abstraction used in my creative process allows me to explore very complex ideas such as gender, identity or femininity and masculinity roles very effectively through very minimal elements.

What was the moment or piece of art that triggered you to begin creating art yourself?

It was a moment in my life five years ago. I was thinking then about my childhood, my experiences, my identity and even my Spanish identity and Spanish history, also, in a process of rediscovering after our dictatorship and transition to democracy. I found myself trying to put into words all those complex ideas, and I simply could not make it. It has always been difficult for me to express myself in words.

It was at that time when I realize about my huge old images and magazines collection. I had always collected images from books and magazines, small postcards and old photos that I found in my travels and in flea markets, and I suddenly discovered that it was very easy for me to express my ideas, my fears and my desires through very elementary compositions of these images. Furthermore, those pieces of different images, that at one point created a totally new image with full meaning, was also a metaphor for my own self-creating process. At that moment, I felt that I needed to continue exploring all these ideas and even myself through collage.

  • you
  • Serenity
  • labyrinth
  • about time
  • Breaking rules
  • Fringe
  • something missing
  • Reappearing
  • pride
  • expanding bounderies
  • Following the wave
  • Olvidaré lo que aprendí
  • nothing direct me
  • Intheredzone

Your artwork is very stylish. What is your relationship with fashion?

Well, to me fashion, as well as tattoos, are about art. People choose a particular piece of clothing or allow themselves to get tattooed not only because it is beautiful but in this decision they are also creating their own aesthetics and style. They are constructing their own identity. Actually, I feel so attracted by this process.

How do your Spanish roots and/or time spent living in Europe influence your perspective or practice, do you think?

I believe that living in different places and within different culture helps develop a more inclusive view of the world. Of course, my Spanish background is more deeply rooted in me, and served as the basis to both recognize and reconcile differences and commonalities among different types of living and experiences, that define who I am right now.

How do you deal with the isolation of being an artist? What is the best thing about working alone, and what is the most difficult?

The most difficult thing about working alone is, obviously, the solitude and the need for company. I come from Spain, you know, we are pretty much used to being with a lot of people, family, friends, even colleagues most of the time. So this part of my work sometimes can be hard, but I really love this moment of connection with my work, while I am in the composition process or assembly moment, and everything is reduced to my artwork and me.

“As a visual artist, I deeply believe in the power of images to build and transform our society. My artwork aims to transcend ideas of gender roles, masculinity and femininity to represent a more inclusive world.”

What does being a woman mean to you, personally?

Being a woman means to me belonging to a sisterhood that possesses the resilience, strength and ability to grow and find a place of its own in our society, despite the clearly unequal and sexist rules that regulate it.

When did you first become aware of gender politics, and why did you choose to use art to address these issues?

During my childhood and teenage years I had problems fitting properly with the expectations and behaviours associated with my gender. Gender, to me, always was an arbitrary social construction which is a limitation to the human being’s potential, as a result of social expectations for particular attitudes and behaviours accepted and desired according with our birth sex. As a visual artist, I deeply believe in the power of images to build and transform our society. My artwork aims to transcend ideas of gender roles, masculinity and femininity to represent a more inclusive world.

What issue in particular is currently on your mind?

These days I am thinking and learning a lot about the identities of discontinuity, as Judith Butler wrote in her book Gender Trouble, “the identities of discontinuity and incoherence, themselves thinkable only in relation to existing norms of continuity and coherence, are constantly prohibited”.

Based on that, my new body of work, called Subversion, explores the ideas of metamorphosis, evolution and subversion of identity and relationships. It is a pretty autobiographic series because I am exploring new kinds of relationships in my life and also I am learning about my own self-identity from it.

The theoretical framework for this series is very close to the Earth or Land art ideas developed in their colossal sculptures. I have carefully selected materials, mainly flowers and leaves, in the woods nearby, to create an experience about time and change in the spectator. The dried flowers in those artworks evolve through time to celebrate the personal metamorphosis in the viewer.

What are you most excited about in 2021?

Given the current situation, I am so very looking forward to seeing a more normal life coming back for everyone. From the artistic side, I would love to participate in more events and expositions which are so important for the community in times like this. I would love to continue growing as an artist and working with my supporting galleries The Art Shop, here in Vancouver, and PxP Contemporary.

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