Artist Spotlight: Carmen la Griega
A blog post is the least I can do to honor the amazing woman who has hosted me here in Madrid for my semester here. Carmen is not only a delightful, fun, and thoughtful person but also a phenomenal artist, with profound meaning and depth behind each of her abstract works. She has worked in many media throughout her career, including charcoal, pastel, oil, and most recently watercolor. She refers to herself as Carmen "la Griega" because she spent a period of five years in Greece, beginning with an art-based study abroad. She loved it so much she stuck around for a while, and after returning to her home of Madrid, where every woman seems to be named Carmen, she became known as the "Greek Carmen," to distinguish herself. The name stuck and now she calls her studio "Taller la Griega," and it's just a few short steps away from her apartment, so I get to visit all the time! She teaches workshops to both children and adults. I've taken her figure drawing class for adults and it is truly wonderful. The ambiance is so calming and warm, and everyone is welcome to express their artistic styles in whatever way they wish. We spend about two hours drawing and then share and discuss all of our work. Many of the artists that attend speak English, and some are even from English-speaking countries, so the class is a mix of Spanisha and English. Carmen also teaches a children's figure drawing workshop, which is a very interesting topic to discuss with her. Some find it controversial that she offers a class in which small children draw nude models, but she asserts that it is actually a wonderful experience for them that takes away the taboo that adults place on the idea of nudity. The children have no embarrassment about the human body at this age yet, and exposing them to it in this artistic and educational way lets them see the beauty in it, and will make them ultimately more confident and comfortable with the topic in the future, as well as great artists! I would love to sit in on this class before I leave to watch the children draw and express themselves creatively, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time!
This weekend is a huge weekend for Carmen as an artist because she is opening a show at a prestigious Madrid gallery that will run until January. This Saturday is the opening and I will be attending the party to welcome her and one other artist to the space. She's been slaving over her works to complete them all in time, and they're all massive charcoal portraits of woman characters that tie together as a series. She also has been trying on beautiful dresses and asking for style advice to make sure she wears the perfect ensemble for her big day. I can tell she is just over-the-moon excited for this and I can't wait to be there to cheer her on and see lots of her artist friends that I've had the pleasure to meet!
Living with Carmen and getting to know her has been such a pleasure, and every conversation seems to draw us closer. She has incredible thoughts in her head, and they come to surface in every moment of speaking to her. No conversation is ever dull. Of all the things I will miss dearly when this adventure is over, Carmen is definitely at the top of the list! I am so happy we've had art as another way to bond while I'm here. She gets so excited when I come to her classes and she even took me on a gallery crawl earlier in the semester. Her apartment is filled with her work (just like my house is filled with the works of me and my mom) and you can tell by her taste in brightly-colored furniture and clothing that she is an artistic and expressive person. Her apartment is so colorful, it just radiates happiness, much like she does! Check out her website at CarmenlaGriega.org to see more work!