The Joys of Painting and Motherhood: A Day With Belen Islas

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We first met Belen Islas at stARTup LA 2019, where she exhibited with artists Barbara Mendes and Dany Paragouteva. While their backgrounds were diverse, their work was complementary, sharing a tender “care for the multiple roles of women in our life." Belen’s work (available on Artfinder) focuses on the emotional aspects of being a woman, and “the female desire to be a better mother and human being.”

Belen continues, “I’m influenced by my heritage, the culturally enriched environment that is California, and my feminine experiences as mother and creator. I believe art has the power to influence minds, touch hearts, and transform lives — without words.”

belen in studio

After sitting down with her, we asked her to discuss her inspirations, practice, and where she sees herself and her work in the future. Here’s what she had to say with our Content Curator:

Why or when did you decide to make work?

I don’t remember a day in my life that I haven’t made a drawing, painting or sculpture. I just love the challenge of creating new things. However, the day that my daughter was born I decided to take my artistic career more seriously. That day, I wanted to put all my energy into creating art. I want people to see my work and feel something; I want to create a feeling, a reaction, a response.

What inspires you currently?

Currently I am inspired by the experience of motherhood. Becoming a mother of a baby girl has made me reevaluate my life; it also made think about the challenges that women have to confront everyday. My work is also inspired by the way my two children see life, their easy laugh, their ability to be surprised by every aspect of life and their resiliency.

What tool or medium would you be lost without?

I have a sketchbook and a pencil with me all the time. I am always ready to catch any unexpected idea any time anywhere. Without these it might be harder.

Other than your art practice, what other work do you do?

When I am not painting I work as an author and illustrator of children’s books. I am also a graphic designer, and a full-time mom of two.

What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in your career?

The amazing thing that happened to me, as creator, was to witness a four-year-old’s joyful reaction to my book as their teacher read it aloud.

If you could be in any museum, what would it be?

I think that more than a museum I would definitely love to see my work in a public space where it could reach unexpected viewers going about their everyday lives. I would love to have my work in a park or in the children’s section of a library, or just in a street where for a second or two my work could make people step out of their routine.

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

I am mesmerized by the work of Ia Weiwei. I would love to collect his initial sketches or journals. I love when an idea is born. A final piece might be remarkable, but I am interested in the conception of an idea. The original and rough stage of what one day could be a great piece of art.

And finally, what’s your least favorite color?

I used to not like yellow, but my son’s favorite color is yellow, and through him I learned that yellow is the happiest color of the rainbow. I also learned that yellow is mango-delicious and as bright as the toothless smile of a 6-year-old.


 

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Find Belen on Instagram: @belenislas

Q&A by Content Curator Mica England