I discovered Nia's work through another artist friend of mine. The Caribbean imagery in some of her work attracted me immidiately. I, as most people enjoy seeing myself and my culture represented. I found Nia's work vibrant and refreshing. We also shared a similar love, the island of St Thomas where I lived for five years. Luckily Nia agreed to a short interview in my blog to discuss her work, accompiishments and influences.
Nia Andino is a visual artist and writer originally hailing from Queens, NY. Raised with the culture of Caribbean stories in her home, she is drawn to elements of visual and verbal expression that reflect her Afro- Boricua/Caribbean roots, and the beauty and condition of the human soul.
Her art has been collected and shown at several galleries in New York, New Jersey and California including Pier 94, Aeon Logic, Abrazo Interno, Port Authority Terminal, Rio II, miLES, Center City, Rebelution Ink, The Brecht Forum as well as the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, the New York Botanical Gardens for the Frida Kahlo exhibit and the art opening of the Nina Simone documentary The Amazing Nina Simone. She has created the art for the book covers of In Defense of Glitter and Rainbows and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement, The Muse. Nia has a mixed media piece that will be touring for a year as part of the Defend Puerto Rico: CitiCien traveling exhibit starting in March 2017.
Nia has been featured as a poet at the Nuyorican Poets Café and in Queens Lit Fest. Her art has been published in SmokeLong Quarterly and her writing has been published in Moko Magazine, The Abuela Stories Project and the upcoming anthology Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse. You can view her work at www.andinostyles.com and follow her on instagram at andino_styles.
CP: Where do you call home?
NA: Home for me is New York. It is where I was born and raised. But there are other places that I carry in my heart that are just as much home. The U.S.V.I and Puerto Rico are also home. My grandparents migrated from these islands to NY so they will always be home to me too.
CP: If you could have any talent or super power what would it be?
NA: My super power would be teleportation. I love to travel and find new scenery inspiring. It would be great to just transport myself anywhere in the world when the mood strikes me. This way I could pop into any museum or just stroll along a soulful city.
CP: What is your creative process?
NA: Once I have a feeling in mind, I look for ways to interpret that. I paint portraits primarily so I tend to research people with interesting facial features or poses. Many times it's inspired by a photo of a friend. If I can't find a reference I might ask a friend to pose. From there, I let the paint or pencil take over with a playlist to keep the mood going. When it comes to writing, I am mainly inspired by a good prompt or something that strikes me in an article or current events.
CP: How has social media affected your creation process?
NA: I tend to post images of my work in progress or snippets of my writing. Sometimes the comments of what someone feels or sees in my postings move it forward. It will help me understand how well my intentions translate to others. It also helps me to learn of things I didn't consciously think about.
CP: Where is the most inspirational place you’ve traveled and how did that trip affect your work?
NA: I would say there are 2 places that inspired me the most. The first being Spain. Gaudi's architecture ripples through Barcelona with vibrant color and amorphous shapes. Visiting the Prado, Picasso and Miro museums brought a shift in flow and colors to my canvas. The second place is Greece. The magnitude of Athens' ancient architecture contrasts a more modern city. Viewing the detailed sculptures I remembered reading about in my art history classes reminded me how far back art reaches. This made me pay more attention to scale and carving out depth in my art subjects.
CP: What artists are you inspired by?
NA: I am most inspired by the vulnerability of Kahlo, the scenes of Paul Gaugin, the cultural storytelling of Herb Kane, the angles of Tamara de Lempicka and the regalness of Tamara Natalie Madden’s work.
CP: What season do you like most or feel most creative in?
NA: I find I paint more in the spring. I like bright colors and this is when the world begins to show us hers. I usually travel at the end of summer with a sketchbook as my companion. So this time of year is when I'm most inspired to draw what's around me. I write more in the late fall to winter. When the temperature drops, I find my warmth in words.
CP: What do you hope people take away from your work?
NA: I hope people feel a sense of connection and a return to memory. I hope my work carries cultural pride and the beauty of humanity to anyone who views or reads it.
CP: How long does it take you to create a piece of artwork?
NA: All my life! Every piece is a culmination of everything I have learned and experienced until it is put on canvas or paper. I've painted live for events that last 3-4 hours. With some paintings, I've worked on and off for months. The time varies and the art tells me when it's done. Unless I have a deadline. Then I'm the one doing the telling, or at least trying to!
CP: When did you realize that you were a creative being?
NA: I remember doing a lot of arts and crafts projects in 1st and 2nd grade. I'm a Leo and the first real drawing I remember doing outside of hand turkeys was of a lion's face. The boys liked it because lions are ferocious and it made them hype. The girls liked it because the boys liked it and it got them hyper. The teachers liked it because they felt it showed line skills above my age. That day, I not only realized that I was creative, but the effect of art on those around me. Today, that lion sits in a box in my room to remind me of when it all started.