Written By: Valeria Lombo

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I’m a storyteller and I’ve been creative and passionate about design all of my life. After finishing my BA in Film, I specialized in motion graphics and video compositing, working mostly for cultural and educational projects in my hometown. I had the great opportunity to work on educational videos for the Gold Museum in Bogotá, and create a video an introductory video for The Planetarium. Aside from these projects I developed an enthusiastic interest in drawing and printmaking, which led me to take the most daunting risk I’ve ever taken… to come to NYC for a Master’s in Fine Art. 

My experience here has been fantastic and I’ve greatly evolved both as a visual artist and as a person. There’s nothing that brings more happiness to my life than meeting inspiring people and sharing my experience. Working with ArtsFI has been a privilege, allowing me to expand the impact of my work; and connect with artists and communities that I couldn’t have done otherwise. I believe that projects that engage communities through art truly effect a positive change in the world.

I’ve loved Walt Whitman since Leaves of Grass (1855) and was deeply moved with The Sleepers, because it’s about empathy and trust. The uncertainty of life and trusting in that which one cannot predict is a subject that obsesses me. How can I put such feeling into a visual experience? I thought about compassion and faith. Whitman recognizes us as the same while we’re sleeping, while we’re vulnerable and unconscious -while all of our thinking models are suspended, and we’re merely flesh and bones housing a calm spirit. I played Chopin and draw for hours, emptying myself from the fear of the unknown and evoking the unraveling of darkness.

 Initial sketch

Initial sketch

First I visualized the image for The Sleepers in black and white, but life is more complex than a binary. My objective was to represent our differences in shapes and colors, but stating at the same time that we’re essentially the same. I thought about balance, and I’ve been maintaining it throughout the visuals and design; a balance between light and dark, emptiness and fullness, uncertainty and security. 

I, as Whitman, had however to differentiate myself from the rest. I’m taking the position of the watcher, the narrator, the third person, the witness. That’s when the blue color came in (check out the show for the final version!). I wanted to represent a presence flowing with everything else, participating in everything as a wanderer; as I actually feel; somebody that can connect with everyone but doesn’t belong, that is just passing by, a foreigner.

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