Submitted as part of the Women Mind the Water (WMW) digital stories project produced by Pam Ferris-Olson, in conjunction with Stories from Main Street and the traveling exhibition "Water/Ways." This story is one in a series created for a podcast in 2020-21, featuring regional and international artists whose inspiration blends conversation, activism, science, and water. Find earlier stories from the WMW initiative by searching for "Women Mind the Water" on this website.
Vania Lozano is an independent visual artist and dancer. Vania grew up in Puerto Morelos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. She is the daughter of marine biologists whose work focused on the lobsters of the Mexican Caribbean. Vania’s childhood was immersed in water. As a little girl Vania thought she was born knowing how to swim. Water is reflected throughout her art and her dance. Recently she created and produced a video reflecting on her feelings about the isolation related to Covid-19 and her connection to water.
Pam Ferris-Olson (00:00): Hola.
Vania Lozano (00:03): Hello.
Jane Rice (00:06): (singing).
Pam Ferris-Olson (00:09): The Woman Behind the Water podcasts engages artists in conversation about the work and explores her connection with the ocean. Through these stories, Women Mind the Water hopes to inspire and encourage action to protect the ocean and her creatures. Today, I'm speaking with Vania Lozano, an independent visual artist and dancer. Vania grew up in Puerto Morelos in Quintana Roo... Is that right? Roo?
Vania Lozano (00:37): Yeah [crosstalk 00:00:38].
Pam Ferris-Olson (00:38): Oh, Mexico. She is the daughter of two marine biologists. Their work focused on the lobsters of the Mexican Caribbean. Vania's childhood was immersed in water. She thought she was born knowing how to swim. Water is reflected throughout her art and her dance. Vania says that movement gives meaning to her life and extends even to her breathing. Her most recent artwork combined dance and painting. Welcome Vania, I am pleased you could join me and help me with my Spanish. You've told me he began dancing at the age of six, and that you studied many styles of dance, as well as dancing with several dance companies. You've also said that at the age of 19, you went to Mexico city to study visual arts so you can have a career in art. Which came first, the artist or the dancer?
Vania Lozano (01:41): This is a tricky question. First of all, thank you Pam for inviting me. Thank you for this beautiful space, virtual space that we are here together. The right question, I think it would be both because I think that art and movement has always been one for me. I'm one with them.
Pam Ferris-Olson (02:12): Okay. When did the dancer and the visual artist merge into one that mixes dance and art?
Vania Lozano (02:25): I think these would be around 2013. I used to dance for a contemporary dance company and I left in 2013. Then I decided to be an independent artist. As an independent artist, because I really liked both disciplines, painting and dancing, I tried to merge them, to put them together. I tried to imprint or to see what a choreography ends up looking visually. I use canvas on the floor and I mix the choreography, which would be choreography by itself. But the canvas on the floor, they reflect what my feet, my hands, and some extension of my hands were doing. At the end, you have a painting also. These was very important for me, to have both at the end, that you could read them both in their own languages.
Pam Ferris-Olson (03:57): You kind of swam across the canvas. Okay. So you said that water influences your art. Can you explain to me a little bit about how water is reflected in your artwork?
Vania Lozano (04:09): It influences me not precisely on always doing something of water, but it can be the color. I know I really like the ocean colors, so sometimes my palette uses the ocean colors. It can be reflected on the backgrounds or on some scenarios that I use or... Each time it's like more and more in me. When I was in this dance company, I had some training underwater. I also started dancing underwater. I think in my dancing, in my visual art, it always is there at some point.
Pam Ferris-Olson (05:00): Okay. Do you think your parents' scientific approach to the ocean influenced your artistic expression?
Vania Lozano (05:12): Well... Yes, definitely. Because, for example... I don't know. When I was very small, I used to be all the time in their lab and I could see everything, but I didn't want to be quite like them. But I think their way of looking at the ocean did influence me because when I think of the ocean, I think of how it works, why it's getting warm with warm... the global changing.
Pam Ferris-Olson (05:46): Right, climate change or global warming. Yeah.
Vania Lozano (05:55): Global warming, that was it. I'm always trying to figure out what is happening in the ocean. When I feel desperate or when I feel something, I just go there, I can scream underwater. I communicate with the ocean. This is, I think, the scientific part and then my spiritual part also. So Yes, they for sure have been a big influence.
Pam Ferris-Olson (06:20): You shared with me a recent video you made that combines dance and music and a visual montage of water. What was the inspiration for the [foreign language 00:06:33] or Redefining Life video?
Vania Lozano (06:36): Yes. [foreign language 00:06:39] or, as I say, Redefining Life, but it would be like re-meaning life, a better translation. It was done during the pandemic. I did it for a specific support for artists during the pandemic. It was a little bit difficult to make it because I had to go out and there was this lockdowns and everything. The main thing that [foreign language 00:07:19] is talking about is of the uncertainty, the loneliness, the mind craziness that goes around during this situation that is new for me, at least, or for a lot of people in the world. So I don't... I really wanted to express everything that I was feeling, my emotional state mostly. So I think that's [foreign language 00:07:54] main idea.
Pam Ferris-Olson (08:00): Redefining the meaning of your life living under lockdown. Yes. So for those who don't have a chance to see the video, I'm going to play a little clip of it during the interview when I edit it. Can you talk about some of the significant visual images in the piece?
Vania Lozano (08:22): Yes, it's a combination of... First of all, I need to say this. I did everything, my husband helped. For sure, he's always helping me. But I did a lot of new things for me, which was editing and the musicalization. You can see different images. It starts with very beautiful sky, but it's in black and white. And then you move into this sequence of different images. You can see the ocean, the colors. You can hear the ocean, the waves, the sound. Then the images go inside the water. And with this, it gets this black and white again, dramatization. Then you can see me going down to the bottom, having different expressions. They're very beautiful images, but then there are also disturbing images. Nothing terrible, it's just disturbing, emotionally disturbing.
Vania Lozano (09:47): There is this moment which took place by itself... Which I think is the most beautiful part... Where I was dancing with my shadow, and suddenly this butterfly came and touched my finger for a tiny second. These, for me, was very important because it exactly relate nature and humans and movement. I was doing a movement of kind of flying or like this. That was one of the very beautiful images. The ocean, for sure, you can see, almost the smell of the ocean. There's also a lot of work with the editing and the musicalization to create this kind of drama. It's a very conceptual video dance, or abstract, I could say. But in this abstract and concept, you can make a story. The story you make is made by you, by what you are looking at. Then you relate to you and you create a story. Maybe she's screaming and wants to go out because she wants to breathe. Maybe she's just screaming because she feels lonely. Maybe she's screaming because... I don't know, everybody can read it on its own or reflect...
Pam Ferris-Olson (11:47): That screaming that represents you, was it of excitement that you had put all of this together? But did it help you release from your feeling of confinement?
Vania Lozano (11:58): Yeah. Oh, for sure. That's why I say when I go inside the water and I can scream, it's excellent. It's a very good relief, [foreign language 00:12:10].
Pam Ferris-Olson (12:15): Has your personal feelings about the ocean been altered by your art?
Vania Lozano (12:23): Well, this is another tricky question because I think it's more the other way around. The ocean has altered my art more than my art has altered how I feel about the ocean. I know... I think it's always inspiring me or giving me tools and different things to create.
Pam Ferris-Olson (12:50): So how has is your art an expression of your view of the world?
Vania Lozano (12:55): Art has always been there. I like to see art in everything. When I serve food, even if I'm alone and I'm going to eat alone, I like to put it in certain ways. Then I say, "Oh, it looks really beautiful." When I go outside... I'm always looking everything through art eyes or through art view. I don't know how to say it. Everything that I create is an expression of me, of how I see the world, and of how I interact with it.
Pam Ferris-Olson (13:37): Do you think your art engages people in caring about the ocean?
Vania Lozano (13:42): Yes, definitely. I've made some performances. Once I dressed up like garbage, completely. You couldn't recognize me. You just see a big garbage going through the beach, telling the people, "Please don't throw garbage." I did that 10, 12 years ago. Another time I dress up as a dolphin with a friend, she was a trainer and I was a dolphin. We did this performance also on the street because we were against a dolphinarium that was going to open at the time in Puerto Morelos. We needed to express ourselves and say, "No please and..." What best way than to make a performance and show people what the dolphins suffer. So that was a very comic and nice work because we made it comic or funny. I don't know how to say it. It was really good because it impact more because people laugh, but they are looking at the real situation and then they can say, "Oh, this is happening."
Pam Ferris-Olson (15:06): So what's next? Do you have a piece in mind? You're going to continue doing videos?
Vania Lozano (15:13): Yes, actually right now I'm working on another video that is going to be a little bit... The sequel of this last one. Now is how we reconnect again, how there's this connection with humans again. I'm working with two other friends, two girls more. A lot of it is going to take place underwater and on top of water. So yes, I'm going to make another video.
Pam Ferris-Olson (16:05): Well, I hope that you post it on YouTube and Instagram, because I really enjoyed watching the last one. I'm really happy that you had time to talk to me and I'm going to read the closing remarks. If you'll stay around, I'd love to talk to you just a little bit more.
Vania Lozano (16:25): Perfect. [crosstalk 00:16:25].
Pam Ferris-Olson (16:25): Thank you so much, Vania.
Vania Lozano (16:28): [crosstalk 00:16:28] So much fun too.
Pam Ferris-Olson (16:30): I'd like to remind our listeners that I have been speaking with Vania Lozano, for the Women Mind the Water podcast series.
Jane Rice (16:38): (singing).
Pam Ferris-Olson (16:38): This series can be viewed on Women Mind the Water dot com. An audio-only version of this podcast is available on the Women Mind the Water website, iTunes and Spotify. Women Mind the Water is grateful to Jane Rice for her song, Women of the Water. All rights for the Women Mind the Water name and logo belongs to Pam Ferris-Olson. This is Pam Ferris-Olson. Thank you for listening.
Asset ID: 2021.02.15
Themes: Dance, art, artists, ocean, water, movement, choreography
Date recorded: May 30, 2021
Length of recording: 17:05 m
Related traveling exhibition: Water/Ways
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Women Mind the Water Digital Stories Project, Maine
More information: https://womenmindthewater.com/