We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Alonso and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erika, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As it relates to my artistic practice, risk-taking is not a choice, but rather a necessity. When I first started making art, I avoided taking risks out of fear that I would fail, fear of rejection. But eventually, I realized that without risk there is no chance of success, either, and that’s when I started to relentlessly pursue my own unique vision.

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
It’s always so difficult to explain my art to others, but I’ll do my best. Recently, I’ve been working on paintings and drawings. Combining charcoal, ink, watercolor, acrylic, even sand! While I’m sure it’s true for most artists, my art is very personal. I’ve been struggling with defining what sets my art apart from others, and the only conclusion I’ve come to is that my paintings and drawings are a reflection of me: my experiences, feelings, and inner-thoughts. Like everyone else, I’m ever-changing, and in this way I could never recreate an artwork’s subject matter—it’s a very temporal thing, and the result is really a product of the time, place, and space in which it was created. My paintings are really one-of-a-kind: sort of abstract, sort of figurative, and full of wonderful tiny surprises if you look long enough to find them. I’m excited that I’ve recently been able to put together all the experience I’ve gained over the years experimenting with different materials and methods to form a cohesive, unique, painterly style.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. How did you overcome challenges?
I work a lot. I have continued to work a full-time job while pursuing my art career, and when I’m not working, I’m in my studio painting. I think that dedication and perseverance played a big part in getting to where I am currently. I am fortunate to have family and friends who are incredibly supportive and they have helped me to continue through rough patches. I overcome challenges one by one, as much as I can. I think the best advice I can give is to create as much as possible as often as possible, and stop every now and again to appreciate the progress you have made.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Lesson 1: Look at art! Go to museums, go to galleries, watch some documentaries about the great masters. I used to have this idea that I didn’t want my art to be “influenced” by other artists, but that is silly! Of course my art is influenced by other artists—it’s influenced by every experience I’ve ever had.
Lesson 2: Community is important. Don’t be afraid to reach out to another artist on Instagram. Artists love talking about art: their art, your art, other people’s art. Join orgs like Fresh Arts.
Lesson 3: Don’t wait for others to find you! Be brave and put yourself out there despite whatever fears you may have.
Lesson 4: Most of all, I’d say learn to enjoy the process. For me, when a painting is complete, it is not for me, it is for you, the viewer! What’s mine is the process, and I’ve learned to sincerely appreciate it (albeit oftentimes in retrospect).
What do you want the world to know about you or your art?
As an emerging contemporary artist, I’d just like the world to know that me and my paintings exist!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Assuming this is post-COVID, I would take my friend to Lupita Chapultepec for the best margaritas and chips and salsa. Of course I’d take them to the Menil, Rothko Chapel, MFAH and the CAMH, and The Orange Show. I’d take them to get some vegan BBQ at Houston Sauce Pit, Indian food at Bombay Sweets on Hillcroft, and also Blue Nile for the best Ethiopian food in Houston. I’m not a bar type, but I’d take them to Big Star in a heartbeat. I have lived in Houston most of my life, so I could go on and on—this city has so many cool places and people, and by far the best food in the country. And the best art, of course!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people in my life who deserve credit for supporting me in my artistic endeavors, but I’d like give a shoutout to Jonathan Paul Jackson in particular. Jonathan is an incredibly talented mutl-disciplinary artist with a strong vision. I consider him not only as a friend and mentor, but as an inspiration. I encourage your readers to follow @j.paul_jackson on Instagram—you won’t be disappointed!

Website: http://erikaalonso.art
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erikaalonsoart/

Image Credits
Stephanie Gobea, Andrew Goodrich

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