Marlene Jorge is our featured artist this week and a personal favorite of mine. I was introduced to Marlene about a year ago through a mutual friend who knows the painter from their days growing up in the Dominican Republic. After attending a small gallery reception for the now New Yorker, I fell in love with the images she creates.
When did you first start painting?
Since I was 7. I recall all the trouble i got into at school or at home just because all my notebooks or the walls in my parent’s house were filled with drawings.
What sort of art education did you receive?
I actually graduated from Law school, and also from art school when I was in my 30’s. As an art school student I was terrible! I never appreciated the limited or schematic way of teaching at the art schools in my country so I spent most of my youngest day in and out of them because to me painting was like free will is to humans, free, not imposed because it kills creativity.
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process comes and goes, is not planned. I could be walking on the street and just have the urge of painting something. I usually carry a camera with me to capture a scene that motivates me to paint. I mostly paint the human figure, love portraits of women.
People are the best subject ever!..people dreaming, arguing, thinking, crying, smiling. They are the most important example of God’s greatness.
How do you decide what colors to use?
I go for what I feel at the moment. My colors are bright and hot..much like the Caribbean background where I come from.
Growing up in Santiago, Dominican Republic, how did the culture influence your work?
It actually did not. It’s sad to say that the goverment in my country supports the arts very little.
When and how did you decide to make the leap and move to NYC?
Around 2001, I discovered that if I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a painter I would have to seek new horizons. I love my culture but living in other cities like New York and Barcelona make you become more aware of what art should be.
Different! My culture is very tropical. I come from an island where the places, the people, the language are quite different and colorful. It’s a beautiful contrast between both cultures. In Santiago you wake up in the morning listening to the birds singing next to your window every day. The sun invites you to enjoy life even if you are working. You go around the streets and see people that are familiar to you, faces full of life always smiling. You go around listening to our music. Santiago is known by its people because we are very warm and welcoming, and the food..wow! It’s a great thing to go back home from time to time.
Have you found new sources of inspiration now that you are living in New York?
Yes, indeed. I have grown as an artist by living in New York. This city represents many opportunities. You can see how much talent we can find here and this helps us to push forward and become better as artists. As a person, New York awakes the desire of making things happen. As a painter, my style has changed but I am still looking for my own signature, that stage where you feel content or truly satisfied with your style.
The three cities where I would truly live if given the change would be Barcelona, Punta del Este in Uruguay and Marbella, Spain.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I would go to the Tibet, stay there for some time, write and paint, socialize with the monks and locals, learn, grow and become more aware of the true purpose of life, or my own life and reflect on my work. It would also be a way for me to help others in any way possible.
For more updates from Marlene, follow her on Twitter.