In The Studio with Bárbara Siewert
In The Studio is our artist studio visit series. We meet artists where they live and work to explore their spaces and process. We also engage in casual conversations which we excerpt here for your listening and/or reading pleasure all in the spirit of getting to know the people behind the works. We like our studio visits free-form and we hope you enjoy them as well.
Brazilian artist and designer Bárbara Siewert's mixed media collages were featured as part of Mutti's inaugural exhibition, IDENTITY. Bárbara approaches her pieces with passion and discipline, infusing them with layers of history and feminism. The results of her labour are balanced, thoughtful and engaging works which, one could say, are very much like the artist herself.
Just thinking about Brazil conjures images of vibrant carnivals, the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking a picture perfect Rio de Janeiro, women in white dresses and headscarves worshipping by the water and, of course, beautiful people everywhere. Can you tell us about your homeland?
Brazil is a giant country, full of diverse cultures. Each Brazilian region has traditions, typical foods, and very different cultural manifestations, so it is difficult to talk about Brazil as a whole. It is recognized internationally by its major centers such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but the reality of these cities does not apply to all Brazilian regions.
The city where I live, Jaraguá do Sul, is in the South of Brazil. I was born and raised here and we have a strong influence of German settlers displayed in our typical foods and even social characteristics. Today, Jaraguá do Sul is considered the best city to live in Brazil, with low mortality rates and a large number of jobs. This is the reality of where I live, but it does not apply throughout Brazil. I have always lived in small cities in the interior. The reality is that Brazil has beaches, mountains, cold and heat. It is too diversified to summarize into a single reality.
How would you describe your creative community?
In the region where I live, I feel that the community is undervalued, but at the same time very large and talented. I see that we work more independently of each other, relying on a few events which bring us together. I believe that in the larger centres, people have much more artistic incentive to create and collaborate.
What inspires you? What aspects of Brazil influence your work?
I am passionate about the diversity of my country; the cultural expressions, the fauna and flora and the people. Everything in Brazil inspires me, including our music which ranges from strong samba beats to funk, rap and the delicacy of bossa nova. The life I lead here as a lesbian woman has also formed my identity as an artist. It is reflected in my work through the connection with nature, the curiosity for the past and the resistance through love.
What does resistance through love mean to you?
For me, art is an extension of who you are. You create based on the life you want to live or the life you have lived. I cannot separate my art from my personality and in that way, I view each artist as unique because each piece carries the artist's history. Today my sexuality speaks volumes about who I am and the pieces I produce, but I had to fight hard to be able to build the woman I am today. Resistance through love, for me, is the freedom to create art which is representative of what I think and how I live .To resist is to continue seeking and conquering new space without deleting my identity to make it happen.
Where do you currently create? Is this your ideal workspace?
At the moment, I work out of my apartment. I do my best to carve out space, but it's not ideal. In the future, I would like to have a place that inspires me. An open space that incorporates my personal aesthetic, including my love of nature.
You are an artist and a designer. Which came first?
As a child, I always liked to create objects. My father always encouraged my curiousity and projects like taking pieces of wood and turning them into musical instruments, surfboards and other such things.
My passion for creativity led me to the study of publicity and advertising at university which led me to design. Through workshops and gigs with small firms, I developed an interest in collage. It's taken me years of practice, research and study to evolve my collages to where they are now. Today I balance my time between design and establishing myself as an artist.
What attracted you to working with collage?
I love the myriad of possibilities that collage allows. Through this medium you can recreate a new image by simply cutting and pasting it into several pieces. Each artist working with collage has his/her own characteristics. We could all be working with the same elements and end up with completely different results, this is incredible.
Collage is often an abstract expression of feelings and actions, I love this form of communication and love to make sense of it.
Bárbara Siewert / Azalea, 2018
What is your process/approach to creating a new piece?
The process of creating a collage is quite complex and differentiated, it can reconcile digital techniques with manual processes. My creative process has 5 steps: research, concept, sketch, creation, and presentation. In my work, I use in large part the fusion between a main character and a particular fauna and flora. I then work to organically infuse my identity with the concept of each project that I develop.
Your work uses archival images in a modern context. What attracts you to images that reflect the past? What is the deeper meaning behind these visuals for you?
I like the interaction between past and present and the challenge of showing how they are connected. I feel that we are much deeper and have much more history than we know; e.g. past lives, forgotten stories. I reflect that sentiment in my collages, this curiosity about the relationship between past and present. No matter where you arrive, never forget where you came from and the journey.
There are also feminist and political themes embedded in your work, for instance, your use of text? What attracts you to these themes?
As a woman and a lesbian, I still have to fight to be in spaces that should belong to everyone. I see it as an obligation to talk about this struggle in every way, whether the conversations happen in the personal or professional realm. Art is one more way to talk about gender diversity, feminism, and social inequalities. One more way to see and be seen by society. In this way, art has the power to convey love.
Bárbara's works are available for a limited time in Special and Small Editions at Mutti Art Projects. To peruse our collection, click here.
Collages: Bárbara Siewert
Studio photos: Gabriela Luísa Dallabrida
City photo: Fausto Rosa