Glendalys Medina Draws a Geometric Alphabet Inspired by Graffiti

Glendalys Medina Draws a Geometric Alphabet Inspired by Graffiti
Glendalys Medina
Glendalys Medina Draws a Geometric Alphabet Inspired by Graffiti
Glendalys Medina Draws a Geometric Alphabet Inspired by Graffiti
Glendalys Medina Draws a Geometric Alphabet Inspired by Graffiti
"K sketch" Marker and pencil on paper, 150x188 cm. 2012

Glendalys Medina is the John Armstrong Chaloner / Jacob H. Lazarus-Metropolitan Museum of Art Rome Prize Winner in Visual Arts and an Artist.

What part of the United States did you come from?

I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York.

Why did you apply for the Rome Prize?

I made the decision that it was time to leave New York, so I began applying for opportunities outside of the United States. On my way to work one morning I saw a woman on the train reading a book about Rome. At the time I thought nothing of it. When I got to work a friend, coworker and amazing artist Keith O’neil Anderson told me that he was applying for the Rome Prize and that I should apply. I listened and here I am. The opportunity has been a dream come true.

Describe a particularly inspiring moment or location you've experienced in Rome thus far.

One Sunday morning I descended into a dark damp basement in Pigneto to buy some paper after being informed by Elizabeth Kaiser Schulte, the current fellow in conservation at the Academy about a paper maker named Roberto Mannino. Two days prior to that Sunday a friend and colleague by the name of Alta Price electronically introduced me to a close friend of hers living in Rome, again Roberto Mannino. So I organized a meeting at his paper-making studio in Pigneto. After receiving a studio visit and a tour of his facilities I ascended the stairs and back into daylight to realize I wanted to make the paper not buy it and thus I have been making paper in Rome ever since.

To what extent, if any, has your proposed project changed since your arrival?

My mission while in Rome was to further develop The Shank through the work of Italian MCs. First I would choose a characteristic I would like to possess. Then find popular songs which convey that state of mind. Reciting them until they become an incantation, until I am the song’s voice, until they’re a part of me. After mastering that state of mind by performing the songs, I would build a new song—no longer reciting another's lyrics but developing my own voice in the language. I am extremely interested in the history of Italian’s poetic origin and its preservation of Latin’s contrast between short and long consonants. I want to investigate how language can impress upon the subconscious and psyche of an individual and how one can redefine identity through repetition and song. Since arriving I have realized that a song about my experience here in English would be more adequate. I have also developed an interest in paper making and have been making a series of drawings based on my geometric tag inspired from graffiti.

Have you had any “eureka!” moments or unanticipated breakthroughs in the course of your work here?

Yes! While playing around in my studio I realized that if I used my geometric tag as a line, I can build an alphabet based on my graffiti tag.

What aspect of your project are you most looking forward to?

I generally look forward to the “mistakes” in my daily practice. They always lead me to the most exciting places. Other than mistakes, I am looking forward to using various colors combinations in the alphabet I am building.

What part of your project has been or do you anticipate will be the most challenging?

Learning the language has been more difficult than I had expected, but I have only been here for four months so anything is possible.

What's surprised you most about living in Rome?

The light and the colors of the city was a surprise. The clouds move so fast that when the sun gets to shine on the pastels colors of the buildings, monuments, and ruins everything gets enveloped in a visceral warmth.

What is your favorite spot at the Academy? Or in Rome?

I will have to say without a doubt my studio.

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