This year AS220 has been working on creating several residencies in order to build leadership in the arts. We asked these young artists to tell us a little bit about what they do, why they do it, and how they became involved with AS220. Here’s what Pedro had to say:
Hi! I’m Pedro LopezDeVictoria, a musician, writer, educator, and program coordinator with Indie Grits Labs. Though oftentimes my job is to illuminate paths for artists towards creatively fruitful communities and environments, AS220 gave me an incredible opportunity to experience that for myself. I met Shey Rivera during my organization’s 2017 festival, Indie Grits: Visiones, which exhibited the work of latinx filmmakers, artists, and musicians, in accordance with the theme. The theme, Visiones, explored the latinx influence in the southeastern US and our community’s vision for the future. During the festival, I felt an unmistakable and deep pull within, a yearning to return to Puerto Rico and reconnect with my heritage. The serendipity of Shey and I’s shared Puerto Rican roots led to an opportunity for me to work as an artist-in-residence with an art gallery in Santurce– Diagonal.
Thanks to Shey’s work and access to the art community in Puerto Rico, I was able to meet and organize a show with a cadre of wildly talented artists–seemingly the vanguard of the San Juan contemporary art scene. My work is primarily performance-based, revolving around death as a defining context for absurd and beautiful life, and it very easily found support within the group, and opened up a web of connections to me for further artistic exploration. By the end of my residency, I had a short film (which you can watch here) and hours of material for future projects. As well, on my last day, I screened the short and performed a full set of songs revolving around Puerto Rican independence, life, death, and desire.
Both my artistic and organizational work was nourished by this experience. Not only did I get my fill of the culture and environment I had been missing, I also witnessed firsthand how AS220, through organizers like Shey, seize opportunity and provide resources that cater to the potential of each artist with care.
With Indie Grits, we have a cohort of artists each year that we work with and help connect to local support and sources of inspiration. Working closely with them, seeing them encounter revelation, accomplishment, and achieve new heights with their work is always profoundly rewarding. At the same time, as an artist, being on the other end of that deal was extraordinarily dope and it was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. Big love, AS220!