Cover Artist

This issue’s Cover Artist is Veronica Ortega. In addition to the cover acrylic painting titled Native Abundance, her artwork is sprinkled throughout the poetry, fiction, and nonfiction contributions. Here’s a Q&A for insights into her arte.

Erin Michaela Sweeney, managing editor: Who are some of your inspirations?
Veronica Ortega: Artists like muralist Juana Alicia from the San Francisco Bay Area, the Impressionists and early twentieth-century Mexican artists, their styles and lives, to name a few. The Chicano movement, lowrider lifestyle, and my family’s history being second and fourth generations from Arizona, Mexico/New Mexico is inspiring to me.

EMS: What motivates you to share your artwork?
VO: I usually share when a piece feels like I have truly revealed myself or when an image speaks to a larger community. My Chicana experience, life journey, family, interests, and cultura are presented in my work.

EMS: Where did you learn some of your artistic skills?
VO: I am thankful for taking art classes at Riverside Community and Moreno Valley College, where I was introduced to printmaking and expanded my drawing and painting skills. I learned from talented instructors including Amy Balent, Denise Kramer, and Carleton Christy.

EMS: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
VO: As a child I drew and was creative. Twenty years ago, I began journaling and writing short pieces. This sparked a creative process that led me back to visual arts.  I began to concentrate on my painting, took the classes, and became aware that I had a gift to cultivate and share with others. It took some time for me to call myself an artist.

EMS: Why is creativity important to you?
VO: Creativity is a motivator and energetic process that surfaces in all aspects of my life. When I’m creating work or solving small problems, I learn from the possibilities to continue on.