At the age of three, barely able to hold a pencil, I started drawing... I never stopped.
I have been expressing myself through art my entire life. When I was just five years old, my family left Cuba, commencing a lifetime of migration and hyphenation. This feeling of impermanence and non-identity, at home everywhere but not fully belonging anywhere became my way of life. This dichotomy of melancholy and ease, radical yet classical, underlies all my creations. All my work carries a message - social injustice, spirituality, intellect; my innate and passionate need to express inarticulate feelings.
I am an artist because I breathe. I pour myself entirely on the work until there is nothing left of me; yet, when I “return”, I am reborn. I hope to my last day to have paint on my face and hands, to be able to smell the peculiar smell of the oils and my eyes to see color that surrounds me, inside and out.
The impetus of my work is my need to communicate and share a common human experience. I talk, feel, and hopefully touch, through art. My work is my word and my truth.
Leonor Anthony is a multidisciplinary artist based in Miami, Florida, with studios in The Hague, Netherlands and Brooklyn, New York. Born in Havana, Cuba, she immigrated to the United States as a young child. She is an accredited scholar, artist, photographer, and published author. In 2013, Anthony was awarded the prestigious title of Artist-in-Residence at the Florida International University Honors College. She is the founder and curator of the FIU Honors College Art Collection and has curated several exhibits focused on social change. Anthony created the NestGen project, a biennial comprised of artistic installations, incorporating a call to a collective conscience regarding our plane and the promotion of reuse, reduce and recycle.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you.
In trying to narrate my story, I must start with the single, serendipitous event that is the subtext for all my history, as well as the color, energy, and sound of my life ; I was born in Cuba. Because I was a political refugee at such an early age, the plight of immigrants and those without a voice are very important to me and the reason I became an artivist - I use art as a vehicle of activism.
Being so confortable with change and instability has allowed me the freedom to experiment with limitless styles and materials, untethered to rules or convention.
This freedom of expression born out of circumstance, and the absorption of so many influences along the way has led me in the creation of a hybrid and distinctive artistic language of my own.
What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
Obviously, for all artists, the biggest challenge is money, and how to promote our careers in order to be able to afford a studio, materials, the cost of exhibits and promotional materials.
However, for a woman artist, everything is extremely challenging. The system is set up for our male counterparts, and it is not until we are much older that women artists can become well known, if at all. As it stands now, less than 2% of the work in major museums are made by women, even though we represent 50% of artists.
Name artists you’d like to be compared to.
I would love to be compared to a modern-day Artemisia Gentileschi, who against all odds thrived and became one of the best Baroque painters of her time, regardless of her sex.
Some of my major influences are Robert Rauschenberg and Louise Nevelson, the pioneers and risk-takers. Being compared to any of these amazing artists would be a huge honor.
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
I live in Miami and the art scene is the air you breathe. Art is everywhere, and the city really embraces and supports its local artists and art in general.
I am very fortunate to be a Cuban artist in Miami. Most of my friends are artists from all disciplines. Some of them are still living in Cuba, but we see each other at exhibits world-wide and communicate via Internet often. We are all connected by art.
What’s the best art tip you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is to be true to myself and to not be afraid to be free.
It was Nina Simone, the Jazz singer who said it best: “Freedom to me means no fear.”
The moment I ceased to be afraid of what people might think or how I or my work would be judged, I became free, and my work was never to be the same again.
What are your future plans as an artist?
My future plans are to continue attending artist residencies worldwide, which allow me not only the opportunity to experiment and learn from other artists of different disciplines, but also the time to work without any outside interference.
This September, I will be attending the Chateau d’Orquevaux Artist Residency in France.
I was awarded the Denis Diderot Grant, and one of the works created during the residency will become part of the Chateau d’Orquevaux Permanent Collection.
Immediately following the residency, I’ll go back to Miami to prepare for the biggest art show of the year which is Miami Art Basel Week. I will exhibit my work at Context Art Miami in the first week in December.
2019 is half-booked already with two exhibits in New York City: the Armory Show in March and Art New York in May.