Diana Reyes | WORK IN PROCESS



 

L.C. Why do you make the work that you do, what compels you to make it as personal as it is? Is there anything that would stop you from making work in this manner?

D.R. When it comes to making art in general, I don't think it would make sense for me unless it was personal. If it's not personal, what's the point? In my opinion, the only job of the artist is to expose their truth(s) – to literally and/or figuratively be naked before an audience, and to express what non-artists wish to express but feel they don't have the tools to do it. I don't think anything would stop me from making work in this manner – it's the only path to true freedom!

Can you give an example of how you emotionally bared yourself before the audience? Did the process leave you feeling drained or energized, vulnerable or empowered?

For THIRD WORLD, I wrote an opening speech that addressed my feelings as someone who was a descendant of Filipino ancestry born and raised in Canada, and how that affected my world view, namely how it felt like a hinderance and then how I made it my power. I also talked about my deeply rooted body issues, my self-image, how the world saw me, and how I now choose to be proud and stand tall in my given body. Being this figuratively naked is very empowering. I feel energized whenever I stand before people, baring my soul, peeling away all the layers that we pile onto our public personas. For me, it’s almost addictive. I live for that feeling and the power in that kind of opportunity.
 


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Given how much of yourself you put into your work, how do you set boundaries, if any, between personal experiences and what you choose to share with the public?

There are literally no boundaries for me regarding my personal expression. I feel that the depth of our secrets, our shame, what embarrasses us, what brings us joy and pride are things that make our work valuable, relatable, connecting us to other human beings. I find that the deeper I get into expressing the complexity of who I am and what I have experienced, the more it resonates with people and the more responsive they become to my work.

 



 

How do you know that your work is resonating with people? What does the responsiveness look and feel like?

I know my work resonates when people come up to me after the show, write me on Instagram, or send me a long voice note or video explaining how much they connected to the material and/or felt like they were in another world while watching my show. When people identify with something specific I said in my speech about my childhood, or see me doing something with my malong (tube garment from the Philippines), I feel like my mission for creating work as an artist is fulfilled. If art can make one feel less alone in the world through experiencing it, then it’s good art (in my opinion).


How has your life changed since you started making personal work and sharing it with the public?

I feel as though my life has changed drastically since I started making personal work in that I feel like I have unlocked a mystery as an artist in a lot of ways. An artist always craves admiration, validation, monetary compensation, etc., all of which I gained by taking the risk of making work that was really personal to me. It's so easy to get swayed into wanting commercial success alone and finding yourself in a world that can be extremely gratifying but, at the same time, extremely empty.. The fact that I was able to crack into the public with something that I created from the ground up, and they actually loved it, means just as much as making my parents proud (which they are!), and I really couldn't have asked for more validation. Knowing that every ounce of thought, energy, time, money and love that was dedicated towards my show THIRD WORLD was worth it, is satisfaction on another level.


 


 
What is the process of transforming this pride and gratification into another body of work that may, once again, require a great sense of vulnerability?

Everything is connected and the good can’t exist without the bad. That’s the law of nature. A perfect example is that before I wrote the grant for THIRD WORLD, I wasn’t in the best place. Nothing was happening in my life or career, so I felt the urge to make something real out of an idea that I had. Now that great things are happening from it, I am definitely happy about it, but that doesn’t mean down the road I am immune to facing hardships or obstacles. I see those as good things. I see those as ways for me to evolve and grow. My pursuits can’t always be successful or achieved with ease. The resistance in our lives is really what propels us forward.

L.C. Why do you make the work that you do, what compels you to make it as personal as it is? Is there anything that would stop you from making work in this manner?

D.R. When it comes to making art in general, I don't think it would make sense for me unless it was personal. If it's not personal, what's the point? In my opinion, the only job of the artist is to expose their truth(s) – to literally and/or figuratively be naked before an audience, and to express what non-artists wish to express but feel they don't have the tools to do it. I don't think anything would stop me from making work in this manner – it's the only path to true freedom!

Can you give an example of how you emotionally bared yourself before the audience? Did the process leave you feeling drained or energized, vulnerable or empowered?

For THIRD WORLD, I wrote an opening speech that addressed my feelings as someone who was a descendant of Filipino ancestry born and raised in Canada, and how that affected my world view, namely how it felt like a hinderance and then how I made it my power. I also talked about my deeply rooted body issues, my self-image, how the world saw me, and how I now choose to be proud and stand tall in my given body. Being this figuratively naked is very empowering. I feel energized whenever I stand before people, baring my soul, peeling away all the layers that we pile onto our public personas. For me, it’s almost addictive. I live for that feeling and the power in that kind of opportunity.
Image
Given how much of yourself you put into your work, how do you set boundaries, if any, between personal experiences and what you choose to share with the public?

There are literally no boundaries for me regarding my personal expression. I feel that the depth of our secrets, our shame, what embarrasses us, what brings us joy and pride are things that make our work valuable, relatable, connecting us to other human beings. I find that the deeper I get into expressing the complexity of who I am and what I have experienced, the more it resonates with people and the more responsive they become to my work.

How do you know that your work is resonating with people? What does the responsiveness look and feel like?

I know my work resonates when people come up to me after the show, write me on Instagram, or send me a long voice note or video explaining how much they connected to the material and/or felt like they were in another world while watching my show. When people identify with something specific I said in my speech about my childhood, or see me doing something with my malong (tube garment from the Philippines), I feel like my mission for creating work as an artist is fulfilled. If art can make one feel less alone in the world through experiencing it, then it’s good art (in my opinion).

How has your life changed since you started making personal work and sharing it with the public?

I feel as though my life has changed drastically since I started making personal work in that I feel like I have unlocked a mystery as an artist in a lot of ways. An artist always craves admiration, validation, monetary compensation, etc., all of which I gained by taking the risk of making work that was really personal to me. It's so easy to get swayed into wanting commercial success alone and finding yourself in a world that can be extremely gratifying but, at the same time, extremely empty.. The fact that I was able to crack into the public with something that I created from the ground up, and they actually loved it, means just as much as making my parents proud (which they are!), and I really couldn't have asked for more validation. Knowing that every ounce of thought, energy, time, money and love that was dedicated towards my show THIRD WORLD was worth it, is satisfaction on another level.

What is the process of transforming this pride and gratification into another body of work that may, once again, require a great sense of vulnerability?

Everything is connected and the good can’t exist without the bad. That’s the law of nature. A perfect example is that before I wrote the grant for THIRD WORLD, I wasn’t in the best place. Nothing was happening in my life or career, so I felt the urge to make something real out of an idea that I had. Now that great things are happening from it, I am definitely happy about it, but that doesn’t mean down the road I am immune to facing hardships or obstacles. I see those as good things. I see those as ways for me to evolve and grow. My pursuits can’t always be successful or achieved with ease. The resistance in our lives is really what propels us forward.




DIANA REYES | aka FLY LADY DI is a Toronto-native visual artist known best for live paintings in New York. Her paintings garnered much attention and international press. Events like “Donuts are Forever 2″ (Tribute to J.Dilla), Complex Magazine’s “Hip Rock Reggae” (featuring other acts like Kid Cudi and Mickey Factz), Art Battles and AfroPunk all helped her gain press in magazines such as Audrey Magazine (LA), TRACE (NYC) in three consecutive issues, YRB (NYC) where she was featured in both 2008 and 2010, LUSSW (Tokyo, Japan) and Lady Caprice (Paris, France), and the Village Voice. Her popularity also soared online, being featured in such online publications as Honey Magazine, Clutch Magazine, Philippine News, Black Star News, Bandit Magazine (based in Paris) and Swizz Beatz’ Swizz World where she was listed as a ‘Popular Post’ for 2 consecutive weeks. Her latest art showings were at the Art Gallery of Ontario for Manifesto’s All Art Everything as well she performed a live painting on MuchMusic’s RapCity for Manifesto’s 5-year Anniversary. Diana continues to be recognized for her visual arts skills and is currently embarking upon new projects with various organizations. Diana has also taught visual arts with non-profit organizations such as UNITY Charity and Art Starts TO to name a few. She loves to share and teach her art knowledge to the youth – in order to enlighten and empower them through self-expression. Di hopes to continue to spread her artistic passions worldwide. | flyladydi.com

ILLUSTRATIONS | Wenting Li
DIANA REYES | aka FLY LADY DI is a Toronto-native visual artist known best for live paintings in New York. Her paintings garnered much attention and international press. Events like “Donuts are Forever 2″ (Tribute to J.Dilla), Complex Magazine’s “Hip Rock Reggae” (featuring other acts like Kid Cudi and Mickey Factz), Art Battles and AfroPunk all helped her gain press in magazines such as Audrey Magazine (LA), TRACE (NYC) in three consecutive issues, YRB (NYC) where she was featured in both 2008 and 2010, LUSSW (Tokyo, Japan) and Lady Caprice (Paris, France), and the Village Voice. Her popularity also soared online, being featured in such online publications as Honey Magazine, Clutch Magazine, Philippine News, Black Star News, Bandit Magazine (based in Paris) and Swizz Beatz’ Swizz World where she was listed as a ‘Popular Post’ for 2 consecutive weeks. Her latest art showings were at the Art Gallery of Ontario for Manifesto’s All Art Everything as well she performed a live painting on MuchMusic’s RapCity for Manifesto’s 5-year Anniversary. Diana continues to be recognized for her visual arts skills and is currently embarking upon new projects with various organizations. Diana has also taught visual arts with non-profit organizations such as UNITY Charity and Art Starts TO to name a few. She loves to share and teach her art knowledge to the youth – in order to enlighten and empower them through self-expression. Di hopes to continue to spread her artistic passions worldwide. | flyladydi.com

ILLUSTRATIONS | Wenting Li
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