Island Nostalgia:
Larissa de Jesús
By Nabila Brache

After coming across Larissa’s multidisciplinary artworks in social media, we had to reach out. We were attracted to her portraits and neo-surreal imagery that depict intimacy and introspection which led us to think about our own childhood memories. As a young, latinx artist in New York, Larissa shares with us her experience so far and her thoughts on the art world. 

How did growing up in Puerto Rico influence your work?

Puerto Rico is everything to me. All of my childhood memories are attached to the island and of course, most of my traumas are attached to my upbringing. Because my work touches upon topics of nostalgia, I often revisit experiences that framed my view of the world. Another main thing that links my practice to my island is nature. I often look up images to use as reference, from beaches in Puerto Rico, rivers, forests, to breathtaking views of the paradise that is Puerto Rico. 

What do tears or drops of water mean to you? This is very present in most of your work.

The use of water droplets came from the idea that when I’m alone, in moments of introspection, thoughts flow like water and I’m able to dig deeper into what I’m feeling in that moment. Self-analysis and ultimately, self-improvement, is the mental space that I revisit every time I create work. The use of water is merely a reminder that whatever ends up emerging from this blank surface will be a reflection of my inner thoughts, things that I don’t know or want to necessarily express in words. In other words, water represents introspection.

Talk to us about your creative process, as a multidisciplinary artist, what is your starting point?

I don’t pay attention to having a distinct style as an artist. I enjoy the process of exploring and discovering new techniques and this is what keeps me coming back every day. The idea of play is essential to my process. Through playing with materials and techniques, I uncover my subconscious mind which leads to processing bottled up emotions. The thing I pay most attention to is the quality of the work and that the story being told relates back to who I am as a person.

“Because my work touches upon topics of nostalgia, I often revisit experiences that framed my view of the world.”

When looking at your work, we see a recurring theme of self-reflection and intimacy. Has this been something that has always been present in your work, or have you just begun to introduce it? Do you see your style continuing to evolve?

The topic of introspection and self-analysis started in 2015 when I moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Leaving my hometown and my family at 19 was incredibly difficult but also exhilarating. It was a time to define what my role is in this world as a woman, as a Latinx, I didn’t know the importance of home until I had to create it for myself. I was struggling with discovering who I was as an artist and what I could bring to the table. Artmaking has been my preferred language ever since I was nine years old, so finding my voice through my work wasn’t a choice more than it was a necessity.

What advice can you offer to other fellow young artists trying to make a career for themselves in New York?

I have thousands of things that I could share with emerging artists because I am a true believer in sharing knowledge so that we can all succeed. But one advice I can give to young artists emerging in New York is don’t let anyone put limits on your success and make sure to not put them on yourself. It’s OK to fear what you don’t understand but do not let fear dictate your life. Go learn about what you don’t know, never stop learning and never stop improving.

What does the ideal art industry look like to you?

An ideal art industry for me is a place where knowledgeable people in the art-world hand over information to artists without the fear of them becoming obsolete. A place where everyone is driven to empower artists and where there is a common understanding that artists are in the nucleus of the art world. I’m happy that Instagram exists because it has reminded a lot of people of the power that artists have on their own.

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