This month, the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation (ICAI) is proud and excited to announce that our Artist of the Month is the incredibly gifted and prodigious visual and performing artist Cristiana Tercero.
We were to able to sit down with Cristiana and discuss her artistic journey and the pressure and power that art can apply to affect social change.
Tell us a little about your artistic background and journey?
The artistic spirit has been there since childhood, but always shifting and experimenting. Initially I was more interested in performative art. Back in Nicaragua making a living as an artist - of any discipline - is very hard, and not encouraged (to put it lightly) and the only art-related Major offered at my university was Graphic Design and Visual Communication. It felt like the closest thing, and was still a way I could do Theatre and Dance as part of my cultural scholarship. I got to experience the excitement of Musical Theatre and Contemporary Dance as part of the University’s Annual Gala productions in front of crowds of over 1000 people at the country’s biggest theatre, 4 times! To this day, some of my most thrilling and cherished experiences.
But college was of course when I learned and first got into Illustration and Digital Art; my thesis project promoted safety and respect for Latin-American women in public spaces through an array of accessible digital platforms, and was awarded during the exhibit for better standing. I particularly love the way illustration can be linked to my two interests of acting and dancing, especially along with animation. When I first arrived in Canada I was lucky to come across QuickDraw Animation Society (big shout-out), I felt incredibly welcomed and got my first taste of belonging to the Calgary Arts Community. Since, I’m grateful to have met many amazing people and artists, all with a genuine willingness to guide and collaborate.
Before coming to Canada, many times felt like being in survival mode. And two out of the almost-four years I’ve lived here have been in the midst of a pandemic. But instead of describing it as ‘challenging’, I can now say it’s been a journey of self-respect and recognition. I don’t practice Art full time, I’m also a mother, and balancing it all to still do what I love it’s no small deed.
Have you had opportunities to showcase your works since you arrived in Calgary?
I recently had my first ever exhibition in Canada, thanks to the amazing ICAI team, actually. Through Nov-Dec of 2021, I was honoured to be part of the Mini Galleries Exhibition at Rotary Park, with the support of Calgary Heights Community Association.
I think it is important to acknowledge that art can ask the questions that start conversations about social change and to make that conversation more accessible to all communities.
What are the challenges you are currently facing as an immigrant/newcomer artist?
I believe coming from an underdeveloped country, the biggest challenge is always adapting and for most immigrants the overwhelming feeling of “where to start”. We’re collectively in need of more connection, which by default brings a sense of community and support, these are essential for those facing the cultural shock and emotional impact of moving countries.
How do you feel being selected as the artist of the month?
Building up a creative career is a challenge. To me just being recognized as "an artist" is already a great deal, so I couldn’t be more honoured and grateful to have been selected as February’s artist of the month. I’ve been following along this series and have seen the level of talent showcased. It feels very encouraging that my work is now shared along with theirs.
What are the goals you are hoping to achieve in the next few months through your arts?
I hope to continue to grow and develop a more consistent Creative Practice. Allow myself to enjoy experimenting with other creative expressions, even if just for the sake of fun or freedom.
I hope to continue to finding the rhythm to my artistic process, because there is a rhythm to art and it starts from the womb where we first hear our mother’s heart.
We would like to thank Cristiana Tercero for her outstanding insights into the artistic journey for immigrants in Calgary. If you would like to see more of her art, please visit her Instagram.