I was born in Berkeley California and grew up in the Bay Area and New York City. I was raised in part by my grandparents who were both artists. My grandpa, Oscar Bernal was primarily a painter and my grandma, Denise Forte made mixed-media sculptures. Together they kept the walls of the house full of art and instilled a compulsion in my to always be creating. The role models I had growing up partnered with an interest in computers at a young age led me to my current interdisciplinary practice of studio art and programming.
Much of my aesthetic direction was shaped by the substantial collection of art objects in my childhood home - much of which could be categorized as Artesania. Artesania is a broad category of Mexican folk art. I won't personally go into an in depth definition of Artesania - the parts that resonate the most with me is that it is the art of the people, and it is made for homes and celebrations. It is not the art you will see at a Fine Arts Major’s open studio, but you might find it on the walls of their dorm room. It is not likely to be showcased at a contemporary art museum but it is unavoidable at any day of the dead event. It is proudly handcrafted, not manufactured or perfected.
Aesthetically I am inspired by artesania and conceptually I am intrigued by process oriented exploration. Process oriented exploration is an idea that values progress over completion. I had been interested in interactive and programming based art long before I was introduced to this term, but once I discovered it through the artist David Bowen I had words to describe what drew me to the medium. Interactive art is a perpetual process, it requires participation from viewers and/or a constant retrieval of data to reveal unique qualities and to advance its progress. Some of my work is based on interactions with audience in that very moment. I also make pieces that interact with data sourced from the internet like twitter posts, online dialog, and weather forecasts. In all of these instances the “completed” work, the one that stands in front of you is not actually finished. It is still thinking, processing, and changing.
I am also fascinated by the similarities of art, technology, and nature. Thinking about process-oriented exploration naturally lends itself to a metaphor about growth and adaptation. When visiting spaces that showcase art or botanical life we are told to look but not touch. We are taught that we will negatively impact a plant or a painting by manipulating it. As an artist who encourages the audience to touch and manipulate my work I often find myself refurbishing or completely remaking pieces after a show. The handcrafted nature of artesania lends itself to stress free remakes, and it is a great reward to have an audience so engaged with a work that it must be refurbished. My intention is not to throw the rules of art and nature spaces out the window. There are important reasons for these rules: A painting will deteriorate when touched too frequently and a plant will die if overwatered. Instead I am questioning conventions about the human’s relationship to art and the human’s relationship to nature. Maybe not all art loses vitality when you touch it, and maybe there are ways to interact with our ecological environment without destroying it.