Vanessa Ayala’s Art Radiates Cultural Pride
Latina women have claimed their time is now – and now, more than ever, doing their part to ensure their shine is no longer dimmed. Latina women right now, so vividly have shifted and importantly impacted culture at all levels. In 2019, Puerto Rican-American Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from the Bronx, became the youngest woman elected to Congress, actress Zoe Saldana has become one of the most relevant actors, starring in some of the highest-grossing movies ever (i.e. Avatar and The Avengers), Cardi B has broken record after record, racking multi-platinum records, and Puerto Rican and Caribbean actress Indya Moore, a trans woman, has made groundbreaking moves, starring in the series Pose. Latina women are claiming their light – on and off our screens, and dynamic Latina artists like Colombian-American painter and singer Vanessa Ayala are ensuring their work, vibrantly displays the diverse and expansive beauty and talent, that exists amongst Latina women – from our screens to our streets.
A native of Kansas City, now residing in New York, Ayala defines herself as an artist, who loves to explore all areas of art forms. Her work expands to include vivid, spirited, and vibrant portraits of iconic artists from – Frida Kahlo and Celia Cruz to Selena and Aaliyah. Her art is intimate and mesmerizing, embracing family, culture, femininity, color, and joy. For Ayala, her purpose is to create something “tangible to share with others,” and she does just that, constructing art that feels real – from the detailed facial expressions of her subjects, the spotlight on pop cultural icons, to the display of the loving families and faces we know. Ayala’s energetic work inspires – breaking barriers and stepping on outdated stereotypes that continue to seep through media, instead, shining a bright light on all the magical faces of color that breathe life into this world.
The multi-talented artist, shares her art world beginnings, inspiration, and words of wisdom.
Describe your beginnings with art.
I was fortunate to attend a performing arts high school. I was always inspired by all the creative fields, art, music, dance, acting. I later went onto study at California College of Art. It was then I found
inspiration in other artists like Kehinde Wiley and Andy Warhol.
How would you describe your style. What makes it special?
I would describe my style as vibrant pop art. I think my use of color and realism can give it an edge that makes it special. The majority of my clients are people of color, I think Latino & African American people appreciate seeing themselves portrayed in a thoughtful piece of artwork created with detail and love.
Favorite icons you’ve painted – what makes them particularly important to you?
A few favorite icons I’ve painted are Frida and Selena. Frida is a huge inspiration and a Latina painter I can identify with. I love how she was so vulnerable to bare her soul on canvas. Selena is also a giant inspiration and someone I also identify with in every way being bicultural, creative, and singing Latin music.
What message do you wish to convey through your art?
In my art, I enjoy painting glamorous portraits of strong female icons and entrepreneurs in hopes to empower women.
You are an artist in many ways - you also create music. What does your music aim to say to your audience?
In music, I enjoy Latin music which is predominantly dominated by men so I hope to empower women with something different and creative within the genre.
What drives you most?
I ask myself what drives me the most and I recently came across a quote by Steve Jobs, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” I definitely have visions and I can’t bear to stop until I express them it’s a crazy driving force that literally just comes from my soul.
Identify the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome to establish yourself and sustain as an artist.
The biggest hurdle I had to overcome to establish myself was self-love. Which is something I’m still learning. I was in a very toxic relationship for so long and I finally realized I had to leave when my creative projects were not supported. I realized I wasn’t growing and no one can force me to stop doing something artistic that I love. I had absolutely nothing to my name and nothing to lose. I eventually moved to New York with 2 suitcases and a dream to explore my creativity. I will forever be grateful for the friends I’ve made here who helped me grow and become the person I am today.
Do you have any self-care go-tos or routines that help you destress?
My favorite way to destress is watching movies or shopping. I can literally walk around for hours looking at clothes and thinking about style. Or hours exploring new movies, stories, documentaries, I love film.
How do you envision your brand growing?
I envision my brand growing with more gallery shows, merchandise, music, and even film as well. I’d love to delve into as many creative fields as possible.
Best places to view your art.
At the moment the best place to view my art is on my Instagram @artbyayala. In a few of the my music videos found on YouTube.com/2strongmusic I always love to incorporate my art in my videos, as well.
Powerful words of wisdom that have transformed your life and your work.
Words of wisdom that has transformed my life and work has been the power of positive thinking. It has completely transformed my life for the better. If you don’t know about it yet you gotta look it up because it is life changing.
Photos: Vanessa Ayala