Gabriela Sierra Bedon is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily with oil painting and ceramics. She was born in Ecuador and has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota for most of her life. The intricate nature of belonging to two places and cultures is something she holds close to her heart, it plays an important role in her artwork and identity. Much of her inspiration comes from the spiritual connection to the natural world, including plants, clouds, and mountains.
Her recent artwork has been featured in The Tower Literary and Art Magazine, Saber Magazine, and group exhibition, Art and Influence at the Coffman Memorial Union Art Gallery. Gabriela is a junior at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, studying Finance and Art.
Photograph by Maeve Gimpl
As a young child, I was uprooted and moved from the mountainous country of Ecuador to the state of Minnesota, both beautiful in their own ways. Growing up and being surrounded by both the Latinx culture through my life at home and American culture outside my home, continues to influence my way of being. My work centers around identity and connectedness to the natural world. Nature being all things living in a synchronous fashion; feeding and nurturing from each other to create a sustainable way of being. Change and reflection are consistent in my practice and life because of this. It has been and will be a complex dynamic to navigate, but the duality of my identities is integral to my being and inevitably shapes my art.
My creative process involves the direct and intimate use of my hands. I practice multiple mediums and have noticed reoccurring themes show throughout them; both ceramics and henna offer an intimate connection between my hands and forming the designs or art piece. The drawings on my ceramics and the line-work of my henna designs, both depict patterns seen in nature; intricately designed leaves and flowers. Henna, being natural dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis, allows me to directly connect to nature and others as I apply the natural paste to other beings. The practice of creating is meditative through its repetition of lines and gestures.
Furthermore, I embrace the importance of plants in our daily lives, explore their medicinal qualities through research, and their personal symbolism through introspection and use of imagination to see and bring to life the healing powers they posses through my detailed line work. Frequently, tropical plants are depicted in my work; they symbolize the part of me that is still connected to my home country. My Ecuadorian heritage and ancestral wisdom present themselves through the magic of plants.
In addition to henna and pottery, oil painting is another medium I often practice. My paintings are more gestural and include the same themes of nature. The gestural work in my various many clouds paintings is made solely with my fingers and hands as I directly smear paint onto the canvas. I base my cloud paintings off of photographs I have taken of colorful sunsets and sunrises in my chosen, but beloved home of Minnesota. Clouds encompass the change that has been a reoccurring in my life because of my dual-identity; understanding the parts of myself that belong to each, is constantly changing.
My artwork also embraces the spontaneity of artistic changes that occur in the moment, bursts of expression and feelings. The creative process is deeply meditative and centered around the present moment and breath as it allows me space and time for introspection and connection to my identity. Delving into the artwork with my bare hands offers a connection between how I intentionally create art and connect to my medium and nature.