Renata Cassiano Alvarez Interview - The Hopper Prize

Renata Cassiano Alvarez

Renata Cassiano Alvarez on communicating through material, preparing for two solo shows, and language as transformation, archaeology and memory.

How did you get into making art?

My grandmother was very creative. She was a school teacher and every day she had a project to do for her students or classroom. I would spend a lot of time with her as a child working on these projects. Later on, I found myself gravitating towards the art classes in school. My favorite was to mix paint colors and find new tones or shades. I think it all clicked when I found clay and started understanding what it is to communicate through material. Shortly after I started art school.

What are you currently working on?

I have 2 solo shows next year in Mexico, in addition to a duo and a few groups in the US. The process to make my work is a bit long, so I am already working on next year. There will be a lot of tile, carved glaze, obsidian and gold.

Right now, I have been deeply interested in tile and the possibilities of making sculptural work out of it. And reflective surfaces.

Language as transformation, archaeology and memory are the sparks for a lot of what I do.

Renata Cassiano Alvarez

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

My work is largely inspired by my context as a Latinoamericana. Language as transformation, archaeology and memory are the sparks for a lot of what I do. Both my parents are archeologists who dedicated their lives to deciphering the remnants of our past. Through this lens, I see the object as survival – objects with a sense of permanence and timelessness.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I tend to take a larger approach when possible. I have a lot more fun when I am working on different things and they are feeding off each other. I enjoy that energy.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I get in the morning and choose the music to start the day. I walk around looking at things, uncovering what is in process and just understanding what is going on. After about an hour of that, I get going. If I have to carve and use the saws, I start with that.

Who are your favorite artists?

Lately I have been looking at a lot of Graciela Iturbide, Helen Escobedo, Pedro Reyes, No Grupo, and Luis Ortiz Monasterio. But my preferences flow with my current interests in the studio.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I go to shows, read the art journals and look at social media. When I am in a new town I like to dedicate some time to visit galleries and museums.

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