Meet the Maker – Artist Noelia Towers
We caught up with her to learn more about how she ended up in the Midwest, what she loves most about animals as subjects, and why she doesn’t consider herself to be an artist.
Q: I also moved to the US from Europe for love. It’s a strange but wonderful feeling to leave because you’ve found another home with someone else, right? How have you adjusted to living here and what do you like about being in Chicago?
A: Moving to Chicago for love has been the best decision I've ever made. My life has changed completely. Obviously I left everything behind to be here, but I don't have a single regret. My grandma passed away while I was still illegal, therefore I couldn't leave the country and that was definitely the toughest part. I blamed myself for a long time, but I finally realized that nothing could have been done. Sometimes things are completely out of our control, which is hard on a control freak like me.
Dave (my husband) has done every possible thing to make me feel at home, from day one. I was totally broke and had nothing but a suitcase filled up with as many clothes and shoes as I could get to fit in there. He took me to an art supply store and spent a lot of money to make sure I had everything I needed to start painting here in Chicago. I've been here for almost three years now and you know, it is true, home is where the heart is, and my heart is here with him.
I obviously miss my family and my friends terribly. Barcelona is just the best city in the world and pretty much every day, I catch myself daydreaming about roaming around the streets, going to my grandparents house for lunch and taking a nap, meeting up with my friends for a drink, hanging out with my best friend, and so on... Then I can feel my eyes getting teary eyed.
I love Chicago. I'm incredibly lucky to have an awesome group of friends and acquaintances who are constantly supporting me and encouraging me. Here, I can sell my work - people appreciate it and respect it. Here I've found inspiration, I've found myself. I discovered a lot of potential buried in the depths of me that I never knew I had. Love has brought me to literally living a dream, and even though life is not always easy and I am constantly in a melancholic state of mind when thinking about Barcelona, I can't complain. At all.
Q: Your work often features animals, sometimes juxtaposed with images of human – particularly ‘feminine’ notions of sexuality. Is there something in particular you like to express through these ideas and symbols?
A: Painting animals is a way to remind myself of our primal instincts. Animals are magical creatures and I am mesmerized by them, just like I am by women and non-binary/transgender individuals. It's always been said that men are like animals, they can't suppress their instincts, as opposed as women.
Women have been oppressed and caged over the years. Women are still being judged and condemned for presenting themselves as sexual beings. It's almost like we're just here to have their babies. We are a womb. An object. Something that men can have control and power over. After liberating myself of a toxic relationship, I found myself flapping my wings and flying away. I rediscovered myself. That's when and why I started painting the Women & Birds series.
Q: You like to knit in your free time. Do your creative passions bleed into each other and come from the same well of inspiration, or do you see each as distinct and with their own meaning?
A: Unfortunately for me, I no longer have much time to knit. I love knitting. To me is just another way of creating, creating something that I can wear and display on my body. I never thought of it as being correlated to my paintings, but I guess it’s just another form of expression that comes from my urge to create and be free.
I had a whole collection I was working on and really wanted to finish, now it’s nothing but a bunch of sketches, swatches and bad math. Lots of mistakes, lots of starting all over again. The best garments I’ve ever made are the ones I never put much mental effort into, oddly enough. Very different than painting for sure.
Q: How do you associate with the label of ‘artist’? Is it liberating, or does it bring a certain kind of pressure to how you spend your time?
A: I don’t even know what being an artist is, to be honest with you. I pretty much do what I want. For a while I told myself that I would never be part of any “art exhibition” in any gallery. I just hate all the pretentiousness that it involves and I am over people lying to me telling me how great my work is and yada yada. I like socializing less and less as years go by, and it’s good to have a social media platform where I can share what I do with people.
Recently, I had a very good group exhibition experience at a low brow local gallery that kinda made me change my perspective on that. I am not an artist, I am a creator of things. Sometimes shitty ones, sometimes good ones. Sometimes my creations make me happy, sometimes they make me upset and frustrated. I am currently very happy having a part time job selling sexy ass lingerie, painting, and going on tour with my husband’s band to sell their merchandise. Life is good and I don’t need any labels.
From Noelia’s Women & Birds collection
Q: Halloween is approaching – do you have any plans for a costume?
A: Silly me wanted to be Eleven from stranger things but then I realized that everyone is going to be that. Even Dollskill (a clothing line notorious for stealing friends’ work) created a special dress for the occasion… ugh, excuse me while I throw up.
I might just end up being Mr. Bean and a sad mime, since I have a couple of events to attend. These two costumes are things I can 100% relate to.