IAP Interview: Alicia Ehni, Artist and New Editor of the Immigrant Artist Newsletter
“I’m grateful to have this opportunity to connect with so many immigrant artists and to share practical resources and inspiring stories.”
Alicia Ehni previously worked as Gallery Director of Frederico Seve/Latincollector in New York. Her work is represented by Galeria Lucia de la Puente in Lima, and she is currently participating in Modernity: Latin America at Corkin Gallery in Toronto. The IAP team couldn’t be happier to add such an accomplished artist to the team. Join us in welcoming Alicia and get to know a little bit more about her own experience as an immigrant artist.
NYFA: Welcome to the NYFA Learning team, Alicia, and to your new role as Editor of the Con Edison Immigrant Artist Newsletter. What are you most excited about as you take on this new role?
ALICIA EHNI: I’m grateful to have this opportunity to connect with so many immigrant artists and to share practical resources and inspiring stories.
New York is full of talented and hardworking arts professionals that play a big role in their community, not only in supporting artists but in promoting diversity and inclusion. It is important to highlight these types of individuals in this newsletter as well as organizations that strongly understand art’s value to society.
NYFA: Like the majority of our readers, you are an immigrant to the U.S., having moved from Peru in 1998. Can you tell us about your immigrant journey? Since being here, have you observed any key differences between the New York art world and the arts community in Peru?
AE: I arrived in the States to study at Pratt Institute and like many artists, I first had a student visa and struggled when my visa was about to expire. I’ve always been a true believer that everything happens for a reason. There is a need to make decisions but at the same time be flexible and open to new opportunities.
Compared to when I first arrived in New York, Peru’s artistic community was extremely modest. It is still small, but it has evolved a lot and has expanded outside its territory. I’m happy to see so many more talented artists as well as more support from renown galleries, local institutions, and private collectors.
There is a lot more optimism, opportunities, and a better understanding of the importance of art in Peru. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.
NYFA: You are, in a sense, juggling two careers in the art world: one as an arts administrator and other as an established artist. Can you talk about your experience navigating this “dual identity?” Do you have any advice for our artists managing the creative life/work balance?
AE: More and more, I meet people who are wearing multiple hats. I see it as something very natural and healthy. I also see these skills and perspectives as assets to do our work better.
My two careers bring me immense satisfaction. As an artist, I cherish my time alone at the studio, and as an administrator, I engage fully on projects that connect with the community and do not center around myself.
In my case, I don’t get to go to my studio every day but I still continue producing ideas, creating drawings, or writing. I find that my work also goes through cycles – times when I’m thinking and planning and times when I’m producing and building the work. I used to fight this sense of fluctuation before but ended up understanding that it’s a more organic and true way of working. It’s a kind of flow that I have to respect in order to get my true ideas out.
I’ve found it useful to structure my studio time. New York can be distracting and having a clear plan can help get things done. I also believe that some artists produce their greatest art outside of their comfort zone – during trips, attending artist’s residencies or collaborating with other artists. I recommend that artists embrace these constraints of time and space and use such moments to experiment with other materials and processes. It might be the best thing that ever happened to you!
Do you have any ideas or comments to share with our new editor? Email Alicia at [email protected]
This interview originally appeared in the ConEdison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter #87. Subscribe to this free monthly e-mail for artist’s features, opportunities and events here.
– Interview conducted by Priscilla Son, IAP Intern
Image: Alicia Ehni