We are excited to announce our newest Guest Artist, Jessica Caldas. During her guest artist residency, Jessica will expand on her research and writing dedicated to exploring her matriarchal line.
Continue reading to find out more about Jessica and their journey.
What do you hope to accomplish during your residency?
Much of my time right now is devoted to others and work outside of my studio: I have a small child and family, a part-time telecommuting day job (although a very flexible and supportive one), and run a volunteer nonprofit arts organization in my community with robust programming. I love these things, and they are all important to my happiness and, ultimately, my practice as an artist, but so is my studio, and I am not always able to dedicate the time I would like to my studio. At my MoM residency, more than anything, I look forward to returning to a rhythm that is me and making centered because even a brief two weeks of this kind of time is invaluable to me (and I think most artists).
As far as the work goes, I have been slowly, very slowly, building up a body of research and work about Puerto Rico and American social and political history and how my family’s story fits into that history. In the past year, I have finally begun multidisciplinary experiments in tangent with this writing and research. I will continue those experiments and hope to create a few more formal works within the overall body. I am especially interested in visually exploring my family’s matriarchal line, as there is an abundance of incredible women characters in my family’s story.
How would you describe the connection or relevance of motherhood to your art or approach to creating?
In the context of this work specifically: I am myself a mother figuring out the best way to pass down my Puerto Rican heritage to my daughter. For me, it is a source of anxiety, pride, and complicated feelings that are not easy to describe. It’s also a joke. How can this sorta-Rican (me) teach anything to my quarter-Rican (my daughter). The matriarchal line of history that I have access to is more limited as the writings and research I am conducting are predicated on my Grandfather’s memoirs, so the work here is more abstract, more imagined. I think, like motherhood and child-rearing, this feels appropriate because nothing can prepare you for the reality of children – it is an act of faith, creativity, imagination, and world-building, no matter how well or poorly you do it.
What message would you send to other artists in this field?
When I first became a mother, I resisted the identity in a huge way. I was in graduate school, and I was convinced I could carry on in my life as I always had, with no differences, just with a child in tow. This is untrue, and it’s not that you can’t do this, and I watch with interest other artist mothers I know keep their art and family lives so separate and so distinct. But it’s not for me, and I don’t think it is for everyone, even if everyone is capable of it. For me, becoming a mother meant learning that I had to care for myself. This was a thing I had never done particularly well, but you quickly (hopefully) learn that there is very little you can do for your child if you are not well fed and slept, if your heart or soul is broken or hurting. That being said, I also learned that for me personally, I had to maintain my own identity as an individual as well as grow and develop my identity as a mother and how these two people were the same and different, how they could work together, and how that could create space for new things, new work, now joy, and new care. I’m not always good at it, and like any mother, I am often at war with myself over the ways I choose to balance my time. But I have learned slowness, care, and comfort in all the ways that I am as an artist and in my studio, things I did not necessarily allow myself before motherhood.
About Jessica Caldas
Jessica Caldas is a Puerto Rican American, Florida, and Georgia-based artist, advocate, and activist. Her work connects personal and community narratives to larger themes and social issues. Caldas has participated in numerous emerging artist residencies, including the Atlanta Printmakers Studio in 2011, MINT Gallery’s Leap Year Program from 2012-2013, The Creatives Project from 2018 to 2019, Vermont Studio Center in 2020, and was the Art on the Atlanta Beltline AIR in 2020-2021. Caldas was awarded The Center for Civic Innovations 2016 Creative Impact award, named Creative Loafing’s Best of ATL Artist for 2016 and 2015, received the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Emerging Artist Award in Visual Arts for 2014, and was a finalist for the Forward Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award in 2014. Her work has been featured at Burnaway, ArtsAtl, Creative Loafing Atlanta, Atlanta Magazine, Simply Buckhead, and more. Her work has been shown at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, and is included in the collections of Kilpatrick Townsend, The City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Kyoto International Community House. Her work is currently on view at the Art & History Museum of Maitland in her first museum solo exhibition, CORPUS DELICTI.
In her advocacy work, Caldas has spent time lobbying for policy at the local level in Georgia and spent time with the YWCA Georgia Women’s Policy Institute at the 2016 general assembly to assure the passage of the Rape Kit Bill and in 2016 to stop HB 51 in 2017, a bill that would have harmed the safety of sexual assault survivors on college campuses.
Caldas received her Master of Fine Arts degree at Georgia State University in 2019 and received her BFA in printmaking from the University of Georgia in 2012. She currently runs Good News Arts, a small community arts space and gallery in rural North Central Florida.
If you are interested in applying for a guest residency here at MOM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”