Art. Culture. Life.

Interview with LQAF Scholarship Winner Marnie Navarro

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La Quinta Arts Foundation was proud to welcome scholarship recipient Marnie Navarro to perform as “IAMNOTADJ” at La Quinta Arts Festival, where she entertained guests daily with her eclectic mix of rhythms and sounds.

Marnie holds a B.A. in Psychology and a post-baccalaureate degree in Studio Art, while international art studies include the Instituto Allende in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico and the International School of Art in Umbria, Italy. Her work has been in numerous exhibitions, most recently in Sensing Elsewhere (Here) in Manhattan, New York and ALL or NOTHING, a LIFEWORK Pop-Up at SPACE Gallery in Pomona, California.

The multi-talented artist catches up with LQAF on her creative journey and shares a link to one of the sound pieces she created at La Quinta Arts Festival.

  1. Who are some of your greatest influences/ where do you find inspiration?

The things that influence me are so varied – the sculptural work of Lorenzo Bernini, the enlightened writing of Abraham Maslow, everything ever made by Robert Rauschenberg, neo-gothic architecture, fluffy clouds, listening to music and dancing, traveling, spending time with my loved ones, being alone in the studio late at night…these are things of tremendous influence. As for inspiration, it is all around us. I agree that, as an artist, you can’t wait for a bolt of inspiration to motivate you to work, but I also think you can’t discount it – it’s a beautiful thing when it happens. For me, there is a perpetual state of flow where the ongoing cycle of making work is what inspires me.

Marnie Navarro performing at La Quinta Arts Festival 2016

Marnie Navarro performing at La Quinta Arts Festival 2016

  1. Do you have any artistic role models? Both in history and/or present time?

Tons – too many to name. Well, ok, some: Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, George Segal, Antoni Gaudi, Charlie Chaplin, Tupac Shakur, Swoon, Faith47, Shrine, Shepard Fairey, Seth Price, Jeremy Scott – they are huge inspirations in the now and their work creates ripples in time. Also loving the work of Jamian Juliano-Villani – her intensity is astounding and refreshing, she’s got major spunk and is hugely gifted.


  1. When did you know that art was something that you wanted to be doing?

It was always something I did; I’ve been drawing and expressing my creativity since I can remember. Most kids express themselves by making art and as we grow up, oftentimes, we aren’t encouraged to follow that path. I knew it was what I wanted to keep doing with the rest of my life when, despite the advice to abandon art, it was the one thing that resonated the most; I was 17 – I found a great sense of purpose in it and though I didn’t know what it really meant to be an artist, I set out to find out.

  1. What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

I notoriously move around a lot in terms of material. Surprisingly, a lot of my current work is taking place within a computer – tons of design and prep work, as well as sound and video projects; the majority of it originates within or ends up as post-production computer work. Generally, I find photography and printmaking to be very satisfying methods of working, they’re hands-on in a way that I need and lend themselves to transformation very well. I like things that are adaptable and translatable. Oil painting, I love it because it’s so lush as a material and the act of painting is very meditative to me.


Do you have any favorite techniques or processes that you are willing to share?

The one thing I will say about this is don’t feel pressured to conform to any process, technique, or concentration. Learn the ropes, learn to truly see, figure out what you like, try lots of different things, experiment, push yourself, and if it turns out you really want to work solely with acrylics, or video, or toothpicks, then so be it. But be the one to make that decision for you. And nearly everything is mutable…almost nothing is set in stone. What is the old adage? Experience is the dispeller of doubt. When you do/make/act, you can then begin to figure out what makes sense to you.


  1. Is there anything that you haven’t done yet artistically, that you would like to achieve in the future? Where do you hope to take your art next? Any key shows or projects you would want to tackle?

The body of work I’m preparing for my upcoming NYC solo show has been developing for about a year and a half now. It’s the project with the highest level of complexity that I’ve created thus far – I want it to continue to materialize in all the ways that I envision and yet be open and pliable to the ways it will shift in response to the process of progress. I would like to open another brick and mortar gallery in the near future and I plan to do some residencies after graduate school. Also, I’d like a vacation! ((laughter))


  1. Can you share any advice for our younger artists now working on their art? What advice, if any, have you received and you would give to others who are pursuing careers in art? 

Don’t go into art chasing money; there is no longevity in that and I don’t think it makes interesting or authentic work – do it because you love it. Sure, everyone would like to be supported doing what they love – work towards that, don’t expect it. Get comfortable with people telling you ‘no’ and don’t take it personally – go after what you want anyway. Keep pushing yourself to make art and learn new things, stay motivated, put in your ‘brushwork’ and you’ll eventually start to hear more of the word ‘yes.’ Don’t insulate yourself; create a strong network of support with your peers and have deep discussions about what’s going on in the world. Seek out mentors. Be nice. Learn to talk about your work truthfully. It’s also okay if you are making things people don’t like – you’re not making work solely so that people will like it. Or maybe you are. At least know there is a distinction. And make sure you do some non-art things! One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a mentor was to get out and do something that isn’t art, it frees up the brain – and all of these life experiences eventually inform our work anyway. Plus, it’s nice to have fun 🙂


  1. What technology will you be using to play your music?

For IAMNOTADJ, I have two sound set ups; one includes a set of turntables and a mixer, which I spin actual vinyl records on, not control vinyl; the other set up is a Traktor S4 controller, an F1 sample deck, and a MacBook Pro, which I use to play digital files. I also utilize a Zoom h4 recorder to grab field recordings and interviews, which I turn into loops and samples.


  1. Influences in your music?

Truly too many to name! ((laughter)) I love everything really, except contemporary country. #sorrynotsorry Old-school rave culture really shaped a huge piece of my musical appreciation so I’m deeply into abstract electronica, house, tech house, and techno. Classical and contemporary classical really strike at the heart of me – I’ve been listening to it since I was a kid. A few years ago, I was able to catch an evening long performance of Chopin pieces by a world-class pianist in one of the oldest and tiniest churches in Paris; of course, I was so overcome with emotion, I wept. ((laughter)) You can literally feel the soul of a musician reverberate through the air when they play with passion.


  1. Where have you performed your live music pieces?

Art gallery openings, private events, and now a couple of festivals under my belt. I’ll be performing several times in NYC this summer, leading up to and coinciding with my solo exhibition in July. Here is a link to one of the sound pieces I spontaneously created at the La Quinta Arts Festival 2016; I had a blast, thanks for having me.

In keeping with LQAF’s mission of “Promoting and Cultivating the Arts,” annual scholarship awards are made possible with proceeds garnered from LQAF public art events including the La Quinta Arts Festival, plus La Quinta Arts Foundation memberships and contributions by sponsors, community partners and memorial contributions.  LQAF scholarship recipients are eligible to receive funding for up to five years.

The Visual Arts Scholarship Program is designed to assist local college-bound art students, and returning scholarship recipients, as they work toward a career in the field of visual arts.