We had the good fortune of connecting with Onecho Usubillaga and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Onecho, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
there is so much to learn and to share with art… In ancestral south American traditions Art is not to fill blank spaces or entertainment, art is intrinsic with the spiritual world and mother nature, art is a way to keep the community healthy.
I look to those values and that fuels my work with passion and perseverance.
It has been irresistible to not follow the arts I found it to be the best place for me to express and share my vision and passion.
I pursue art because art makes me feel always welcome and guides my mind and heart to what really matters.
sharing with my family, friends, and art lovers is what keeps me growing, and knowing that Art can change lives and it can touch hearts and minds keeps inspiring me and many times also surprises me in unexpected ways.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a mestizo artist, my ancestors were indigenous and European, I was born In Colombia and raised in Venezuela where the majority of the people are of mixed ethnicity, Mulattos, Zambos, Mestizos, and Criollos. The culture is syncretic, a melting pot of Yoruba African culture, indigenous animism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Also to a lesser degree, Buddhist and Hindu traditions exist. Through the mechanisms of Colonization Christianity and the Spanish language have become dominant. I became interested in art as a child because I loved wandering the streets of Caracas looking at the street and the graffiti art. I felt that the city was very alive with real people and anything was possible, and I could literally see and hear the roots of the diverse ancient cultures in art, music, food, and politics. I want to share the beauty of this experience through my art practice, enveloping my western art style education within my Mestizo heritage.
I came to the United States 15 years ago, married, and had my son (Rohan) who is now 14 years old and lives with myself and my partner. Coming to the United States was like a rite of passage for me that led to self-reflection about my identity and cultural roots. Raising and supporting a bi-cultural family has influenced my art practice in many ways. I am very grateful for this land and its people for the lessons offered and opportunities to grow and learn.
I believe that Art dissolves boundaries amongst people, cultures, and religions, and makes people feel. This must be the main goal of it. For many years my work has been informed by visions, observing light and vibration with closed eyes, this is a practice I have maintained and cultivated. In the past few years, I have been more intentional with my artistic practice, and questions about what is needed personally to be whole and healthy in colonized territories while staying true to my Mestizo culture has become very important. I found that in order to keep healthy and growing as an artist I need to deepen my cultural roots and actively bring new artwork into the public eye. I am interested in investigating and creating conversations about the meaning of decolonization and colonization and how these frameworks affect our communities and ourselves.
I understand that art has followed the traditions of European aesthetics and has dismissed the perspective of the original peoples of The Americas (north, central, and South). Through the lens of colonization, indigenous art traditions have not been appropriately acknowledged for what they are and can offer. I think My work is a celebration of my South American and mestizo heritage.
In our industrialized civilization, the loss of connection with nature and ancestral wisdom is palpable, I believe our society is in a state of imbalance and uncertainty. I think our current geopolitical and historical situation is in need of indigenous views. Bringing Art that honors and is informed by diverse ancestral knowledge will not only cultivate novel aesthetics; but also encourage a growing understanding of other cultures and the function of art in our communities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I like taking my friends and family to the Rhino district in Denver, and the City o’ City restaurant in town, and the museum of contemporary art. and places to dance like clubs but they are all closed because of the pandemia…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
there are so many people that have been so supportive and generous in my life in Colorado. For many years I worked as a climbing coach and route setter at the Boulder Rock Club gym I am sincerely grateful to this amazing local business and community and Mike Alkaitis for been an incredible friend, climber, and mentor.
in difficult times the Boulder County Human Services have provided resources and financial support to my family.
Tadashi Hayakawa my good Japanese American artist friend.
Leah Brenner from streetwise.
Brian, Dave, and kyle from the amazing and innovative space for youth to skateboarding and have a learning space at Square State Skate. the art consultant agency nine-dot arts for its fantastic work to bring art to businesses and public spaces
My partner kelly Mcclelland is such an inspiration for me and a light in my heart. and my son Rohan !! my family for their love and support. thank you all so much!!!