Speaking with Priscila De Carvalho

August 6, 2013

An award-winning multidisciplinary artist, Brazilian native Priscila De Carvalho currently lives and works in NYC.  We recently caught up with her in the Bronx, where she was working with local teens on a mural to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Priscila De Carvalho

When and where did you do your first public mural?

In Puebla, Mexico a few years ago.

Are there any particular cultures that influence you aesthetic?

The street art culture and urban life, in general. I used to skateboard and surf back in Brazil.

Your work is not only beautiful; it also intellectually engages us. Does it have a particular message or theme?

Most of my work relates to the economic and socio-political issues surrounding the out-of-control urbanization of slum dwellers. I juxtapose my observations about sub-cultural communities with other contemporary issues such as climate change and pollution

Priscila De Carvalho

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or do you let it flow?

I usually have a basic sketch design layout. But it doesn’t always go accordingly.

Do you generally work alone? How do you feel about collaborating with other artists?

Yes, most of the time I work alone or with some assistants. I enjoy working alone, but there’s also the communication and camaraderie — so important among artists — that only collaboration can bring.

What percentage of your time is devoted to your artwork?

At this point of my career, it’s a full time job. It’s not just the creative end of it. There’s also the administrative part. And gallery exhibits demand a huge amount of work…lots of business work, including networking.

Priscila De Carvalho

Any other passions?

Music. I studied piano for six years, but I just didn’t have what it demands.

As a muralist who works in sanctioned spaces, what are your thoughts about graffiti?

I’m highly inspired by graffiti — its energy and vitality.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Graffiti has its distinct history and techniques.   It has evolved from tagging into a complex art form. Many street artists started as graffiti artists.  Street art and graffiti are connected.

Priscila De Carvalho

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?

It can turn art into a commodity. But it must remain an option, as every artist has to earn a living.

Where have you exhibited?

I’ve exhibited in Spain, London, Paris, Berlin, Nepal and Mexico. I had my first solo exhibition at The Jersey City Museum in 2009.

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done as an artist?

In Nepal, I had to climb a 30-foot bamboo structure with no scaffolding. I was tied to a harness, and it was hard for me to visualize what I was painting. But it one of the most rewarding work/travel experiences I’ve had.

Priscila De Carvalho

Do you have a formal arts education?

No. I studied painting/sculpture informally for a few years before I started with my studio practice.

What’s ahead?

Some permanent public art projects and more exhibitions.

Interview by Lenny Collado; first photo by Lois Stavsky; all other images are courtesy of the artist.

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