Claudia Vargas received her MFA from The École Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris, where she studied for 6 years. She has been actively involved in international residencies, having completed a one month residency in Tibet at The Studio of Master Tsering Wangchok and a two month residency at The Cholamandal Artists’ Colony in India. Claudia Vargas’ work has been written about in Cambio 16, New York Magazine and The America Journal of Germany. An interview with Louise Bourgeois discussing Claudia’s work was included in “La Rivière Gentille”, a film by Brigitte Cornand. Her works are included in the collections of The W. Pincus, J. Peabody, and La Fondation Salomon pour l’Art Contemporain. Solo exhibition venues include La Maison de l’Amérique Latine, Galerie A.S. in Knokke le Zoute, De Fabriek in Eindhoven and the Durst Organization in New York. Group exhibition highlights include “Polarities” curated by the late Willoughby Sharp at the Durst Organization in New York, Musée des Beaux Arts de Caen and ART/MA in Budapest.
Claudia Vargas’ pieces “Retirement” and “Shopping I” are currently on view at Underline Gallery as part of the “Good American” exhibition.
1) What do you consider your role as an American artist?
My role is to participate in the creation of a contemporary vision of our society within the larger world context. A vision in which our humanity is expressed through image.
2) You’ve lived and studied abroad quite a bit. How did those experiences inform your perspective on American culture?
Because of my experiences abroad I have developed a perspective on American culture from outside and within. Traveling and living abroad has shown me various cultures’ solutions to similar human concerns. The more I saw, the more questions arose. My travels abroad have taught me that exercising humility and curiosity can help us reap the qualities of other cultures. We should be recognizant of the many great aspects of American culture and have the necessary humility to inform ourselves from the solutions of other cultures.The world is becoming smaller and we need to learn from each other.
3) Give me a bit of background about these two pieces which are both part of your “Consumers” series. Why did you decide to do a series confronting consumerism? How do these two pieces interact with/ complement one another?
In these two pieces, along with the rest of the series, I wish to depict the “invisible” side of consumerism. I believe the objects we consume so incessantly affect our beings and our interactions with one another. We have banalized consumption in our society and little consciousness remains about how “the object” has invaded our lives and consumed much of our time, visual and auditory space, guiding many of our exchanges with each other and nature.
“Shopping I” depicts this invasion and “Retirement” depicts the material measurement of accomplishment in life and the paradox of being consumed by objects; being owned by what one owns.
4) What do these pieces communicate about you personally? What do these pieces communicate about contemporary American society at large?
Personally these pieces show my concern about how I relate to the objects I consume and how they affect my life. These pieces communicate concern about consumerism in American society and how it is affecting people’s freedom.
5) Your works confront loaded issues in a deceptively child-like and abstracted manner. There’s a brutal, unflinching quality to these pieces despite their cartoonishness. How did you develop this artistic language and why does it communicate what you need to communicate best?
I use this child-like language because of its expressive force, straight forwardness and to balance these loaded issues with an accessible and aesthetically pleasing image. I developed this visual language through the years, and learned from the very honest and raw drawings my children made when they were around three to six years old.
6) How do you see your work evolving in the near future?
I am now delving deeper into developing this language, using not only the visual likeness of children’s drawings but also bringing the remembrance of my own emotions as a child onto the paper. Those very strong emotions and passions were unhindered by rationalism or conventions.