SPOTLIGHT: Fernando Pena
1) Who are you and what do you do?
I was born and raised in Greenwood, SC, but my parents are directly from Colombia, South America. I grew up in a Spanish speaking household and had to learn English to interact with the kids at school. The small town of Greenwood really left a kind of terrible impression on me, with its stifling oppressiveness and boredom. There wasn’t much to do so we had to create our own fun in this dead end environment. This has affected me so tremendously that to this day, I still frantically search for unique ways to be productive even though I live a much more exciting life.
3) What role does the artist have in society?
Unfortunately, I think the role of the artist is played down in
society. Art can be interpreted as a major indicator that a society is
currently well off or successful. When there’s time to be spent
drawing and painting instead of having to struggle to live, you
realize that a culture has reached a point where they can begin to
relax and reflect on life. The artist’s role is to snatch up that
opportunity and use it is a chance to send out a message to the world
around them. This message may contain a wide range of information,
from such broad topics as commentary on the world to as specific as
one’s personal experiences in life. In the end it doesn’t matter, as
long as there is that connection made between the artist and viewer.
4) What has been a seminal experience?
I was fortunate to have a seminal art related experience at a young
age. I can remember a small book I had where I spastically filled the
pages with little monsters and crazy creatures. I spend weeks working
on this book and really got a kick out of it. For some reason this
urge to draw these spontaneous creations interestingly enough still
lives on in my art making. I’m literally currently working on small
book involving monsters and America.
5) Explain what you do in 100 words:
I’m a printmaker that focuses mainly on screenprinting, yet I often
span across to other techniques such as linocut and intaglio. I am in
the process of starting my own screen printing/design company called
NO PROPHET: DEAD PRESS to give bands/artists an affordable alternative
to big budget businesses. I also play in several bands, including
Nailbiter, in which we get to tour the US frequently. Beyond this, I
organize shows/events for touring bands here in Rock Hill, SC and also
organize canned food drives for A Place for Hope. In all, I strive to
create/ include myself in productive, progressive projects here in SC.
6) Why art?
I chose art because art chose me, for lack of a better response.
It’s my passion. If I had been passionate about math, then I would be
in school for math. In all honesty though, I would have chosen music,
but unfortunately there’s no degree for playing punk rock. So that
leaves me with my second love, visual art.
7) Is the life of an artist lonely?
I dislike the fine art world in general. I’m sick of the
pretentious, hyper-analytical facades that a lot of artists like to
create and hide behind in order to elevate themselves. I honestly
don’t want to be a part of the fine art world at all since most of my
experiences involve this type of interaction. I would rather work in a
less competitive environment that doesn’t entail all the snobby,
pompous attitudes, but unfortunately this seems to be a pipe dream.
8) What do you like about your work?
I really like some of the strange connections I realize about the
world that are revealed to me through my own art. I tend to draw in a
spontaneous stream of conscious so only until later can I see/make
connections between the somewhat seemingly “random”. This universe
that we experience is full of inherent connections that we tragically
seem to be blind to. It’s really quite nice when your own creation can
talk back to you, unveiling the interconnectedness of everything.
9) What is your dream project?
My dream project is to start a small commune based organization
involving at least 5-6 other people that is completely
self-sustainable. We would live out in the middle of nowhere on a
farm-like compound and devote ourselves solely to sustaining ourselves
and collaboratively creating art/music. We would detach from today’s
society and live off of our creative forces, far from the clutter and
routine of daily modern life. Too bad it will never happen.
10) Professionally, what is your goal?
I like to think I keep a somewhat more realistic goal in mind for
my future. All I really want is to start a small screen printing
business in order support my musical/artistic endeavors.