Ana Maria Velasco
Ana Maria Velasco's art reveals a glimpse into another realm
Ana Maria Velasco, a Colombian born painter living in New York, explores the issue of interconnectedness between art, society, and nature. For Ana Maria, it is very important to create situations allowing general audience to sense new ways to understand the idea of unity. She has been practicing Indo-Tibetan traditions and yoga for almost two decades, and the idea of micro cosmos and macro cosmos is a guiding principle in her life and in her art, as she believes that “our external reality is a projection of our internal world.”
Ten years ago Ana Maria created a non-profit organization that brought yoga, meditation, and art to those affected by armed conflicts and trauma in Colombia. She was also part of a team who built the first Buddhist Stupa in Colombia. Currently she continues working on the community projects in her home country, teaching yoga and meditation.
Ana Maria holds an MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston. She has an extensive international exhibition history in countries including USA, Germany, and Colombia. She had two solo exhibitions titled Ficciones (La Tertulia Modern Art Museum, 2001) and Interdependencia (Colombian Consulate, New York City, 2017) and participated in various group shows in New York, Boston, Berlin, and Cali.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I am mainly interested in the language of painting and its history. Painting is my primary medium, though as a contemporary artist I sometimes use photography and video to convey a message. My paintings are figurative, yet I don’t think I have a particular style. I am a storyteller interested in a type of visual poetry.
What themes do you find most compelling to explore in your art?
I am interested in developing situations in which people can sense new ways to understand our interdependence – a mutual and equal dependence where the involved factors benefit, complement, and cooperate.
I had the opportunity to live with the indigenous communities from La Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia (Kogis, Arhuacos, and Wiwas) and learned about their worldview, life style, their relationship to nature, and to sacred plants. I was also taught the women’s weaving methods, which I translate in my paintings as a metaphor of how we are all connected in a universal scale.
Is there a message you hope to leave with your viewers?
The separation between art, society, and nature is one of the problems of the modern world, as to be human is always to be in relation with others. One of my goals is to generate discussions related to this topic and help construct an awareness of our interdependent reality and society.
What kind of meditation do you regularly practice? Please, describe the method you use and its effects.
Meditation practice contributes to awareness and stability of mind. These are the qualities that allow a person to live a more ethical and conscious life.
I practice meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which gives me more awareness, stamina and concentration. I can stay focused for longer periods time and I can develop ideas with a more open and spacious mind. Meditation also provides me with more tools to work with the challenges that come up for me as an artist pursuing a career in New York City.
What artworks and achievements do you consider to be the most important in your career?
I consider my recent exhibition at the Colombian consulate in New York City to be one of my greatest achievements as an artist. I put aside my career for 14 years to be a full-time yoga and meditation teacher. During those years I opened a yoga center in New York City and started a non-profit organization that brings yoga, meditation, and art to those affected by armed conflicts and trauma in Colombia. This involved developing programs for ex-soldiers and ex-guerrillas. During this time I studied Tibetan art and devoted myself to teaching and organizing conferences for Buddhist teachers in Colombia. I also spent time traveling through the Colombian jungle and was only able to devote time to my art work sporadically. In 2014 I moved back to New York City. In 2015 I was diagnosed with cancer. During this time I started painting again, and I created the body of work that I recently debuted at my solo show at the Colombian consulate. It was a challenge to produce a body of work after so many years of not painting. Overall it was extremely rewarding to reconnect to my art, as I was able to make a body of work that reflected the variety of experiences and challenges throughout my life.
What was the best advice you’ve been given as an artist and a person?
As an artist, one has to have a lot of passion, discipline, and focus in order to endure hardships of making a living through art. As a person, self-compassion has been a wise advice.