An Interview with Award Winning Experimental Artist Aida Tejada
By Johanne Yakula, Pushing Boundaries 2020, Nov 26, 2019
It’s quite exciting to have the opportunity to connect with an artist whose work is definitely experimental in nature. Aida Tejada is from Florida and she was the winner of the 2019 ISEA competition. Recently, via email, I was able to ask Aida a few questions about her work and I’ve added our “conversation” here.
Q: What is the most important experimental aspect of your work? ie: materials, concepts, design, presentation etc?
Every aspect of my work is experimental, I always mix different techniques, especially in my last body of work. I create my “canvas” from scratch. I manually transfer my photographs, add painting, drawings, fabric, and paper between layers of acrylic medium. The materials, concept and presentation are all very important in my experimentation process and final piece.
Q: Has your work evolved to become more experimental or have you always worked in this way?
I have always been on the experimental side. Since my beginnings as a photographer I have always experimented with alternative ways to create my images. I used long exposures, reflections and textures to achieve a “layered” look without the use of photoshop. I am more and more experimental every day exploring materials and concepts I work with. I love to push myself out of my comfort zone, I make a point to always ask myself “what if”?
How do you see your work evolving in the future?
I could only think in the present time, as the work that I’m doing today is what will guide me into a new and unknown path. To me, this is the most interesting part of being an experimental artist……
¿Qué hacer? Una guía con exhibiciones de arte en Miami
By Piter Ortega, El Nuevo Herald, April 19, 2015
Hasta el 30 de abril se puede disfrutar de esta exposición compuesta por los trabajos recientes de Jee Park, Aida Tejada y Clara Varas. La muestra se centra en temáticas relacionadas con los conceptos de historia personal, memoria individual y colectiva, así como evidencia un claro interés por la experimentación a través de materiales no convencionales. Cada artista desafía los límites de los géneros artísticos tradicionales, intentando ir más allá de las nociones de “pintura”, “fotografía”, “escultura”, etc.
¿Dónde? Wynwood Exhibition Center (WEC). 297 NW 23 Street, Miami. 305-478-0972
Second Saturday Art Walk Guide: October’s Eight Unmissable Shows
by Carlos Suarez De Jesus, Miami New Times, Oct 12, 2012
“Miami-Based experimental photographer Aida Tejada’s new series of medium-sized mixed-media photo transfer works on aluminum range from portraits to landscapes and abstractions. Her banal scenes evoke the fogginess of memory and detonate the frame-by-frame logic of the narrative. Tejada’s disparate images evoke a sense of Absurdist Theater and hint at uncertain scenarios that are infused with a sense of the ineffable intended as departure points for open-ended readings.
Tejada creates her visual effects “in-camera” rather than relying on digitally manipulated computer media. In the nearly fifty works on display Tejada also experiments with color, employing a palette that swings from stark monochromes to striking color sometimes within a single image.”
By Lynne Bentley-Kemp, PhD Instructor, Dept of Art and Art History Florida Atlantic University, Irreversible Magazine, December 2012
In today’s world of instant gratification and software that creates images that seem much more complex than they really are, Aida Tejada comes up with a retort to the software virtuosos. Her vision articulates the effects of light and how it is captured in ways that render her subjects through time and space, not Photoshop. Her camera is a means of transport from the everyday to the interior of the soul. She uses the shutter like a paintbrush and color and light emerge as the objects of her gaze. The fact that Tejada has earned degrees in psychology and communication, and not photography, adds intrigue to the substance of her visual vocabulary. She routinely signs up for workshops to add to her already intuitive knowledge of photography. Tejada’s passion is for learning how to expand her visual vocabulary, a mission that will never end.
Much of Tejada’s workshop experience has focused on the need to acquire technical skill. At The International Center for Photography she worked with Bryan Peterson, a wonderful ‘how to’ author and teacher. With Peterson she plumbs the left-brained science of how photography works, and then takes her studies to the opposite end of the spectrum by working with Bonnie Lhotka. Lhotka is the doyenne of contemporary digital printmaking and her books, Altered Reality and Alchemy are seductive invitations to artists like Tejada to take their work into the realm of contemporary printmaking. Lhotka has been a seminal force for pushing the envelope of digital photography into installation, sculpture and the singular image.
While psychology and photography may define the perimeter of Tejada’s work, at heart she is a poet. She practices a form of magical realism that explores the edges of vision, but remains grounded by the camera itself. In seeking alternatives to reality Tejada makes the subject irrelevant. She transforms the ordinary into an aesthetic statement and nothing escapes her practiced eye. She walks the world with a heightened sense of emotion and empathy, creating poetic narratives with reflections, textures and movements. It is altogether a sophisticated vision and the eye of the child. Everything is fresh and new as her camera apprehends a jaded world and quotidian objects come under Tejada’s spell.
Handwork and craft are important elements in Tejada’s approach to ‘slow art’. The work, though emphatically not post processed through a computer, is the result of special effects. In a series that evokes the intersection of ancient pictographs and contemporary graffiti, Tejada utilizes a thick sandwich of acrylic and string to make a filter that is placed in front of the camera’s lens. Her understanding of the devices of depth of field and hyper focal distance enhances the transparent layering of the image elements. She then fuses the final image onto a variety of substrates – paper, aluminum, acrylic -through an image transfer process. Her restrained use of craft enhances the originality of the work.
Some of the most successful images are contained in the three series titled, ”Reflexion”, ‘The Window” and “Remainder”. The photographs create ambiguous suggestions of paint, graphite and other markings that might be parts of a universal history of humanity. They are like markings on a cave wall, part of the palimpsest of narratives made by humans since the beginning of recorded time. In exploring alternatives to reality, Tejada bumps up against the foundations of our existence. Do we see with our eyes or do we ‘see’ with our emotions? In all likelihood a true revelation of our world arrives with both the physical and the emotional. Tejada demonstrates that as fact. Her compositions elicit, in her words, “the footprint of our existence” as all pretense is stripped away to reveal the manifestation of spirit.
With Tejada’s energy and openness for trying out new ideas she ensures the sustainability of her art. Her developmental approach to questioning and creating is the heart of her authenticity. She imbeds her expansive cultural literacy into each image and makes it altogether unique and familiar. For her and her viewer, the work is completely liberating for the mind and the eye.
Meeting with a Aida Tejada, experimental photographer
by Consulate of France in Miami, Sept 2011
Aida, this Friday begins your first solo exhibition at the French Alliance, which kicks off the full cultural season of this great cultural institution in Miami. How would you describe your photography?
I would describe it as “experimental photography.” My subjects are banal objects of everyday life. Giving them another dimension, I explore other alternatives to see a reality…
Artspace MAGQ’s cell-phone photography
by Carlos Suarez De Jesus, Oct 21, 2010
“Dominican photographer Aida Tejada captured arresting abstract images that look like bold, Nolandesque color-field paintings by sweeping her lens wand-like over mundane surfaces, capturing a sense of electric movement that jolts through her imagery. The artist also used her phone to create a series of shadow pieces that evokes ghostly apparitions.”