alerie Aranda is a professor of art, drawing and painting here at GC. But her skills don’t stop at teaching. She herself is a phenomenal artist, portraying cultural expressions and traditions as well their conveyance across generations, demographics and diverse geographies.
Aranda uses a figurative element in her work to draw and paint the human figure.
She studied life drawing and painting the human form as an undergraduate because of her love for dance.
Aranda first noticed her love for drawing and how it made people feel in the third grade. As a child, Aranda was shy and reserved, but she quickly realized art helped her communicate.
The first time she ever shared one of her creations was when she entered her piece into an exhibition. She came in first place.
Aranda said her family has impacted her art in a major way.
“My parents and daughter are my biggest fans,” Aranda said. “They are so supportive but aren’t afraid to give me honest criticism. To this day, my parents attend shows that I have and my work is all over their house.”
When Aranda creates art she likes to be in her studio and listens to music, podcasts and different radio programs while she works.
Aside from art, Aranda spends time investing in other hobbies which include outdoor activity such as running, hiking and riding her bike. She also loves to dance, from free form to the Jitterbug.
Co-curators Elizabeth Vann-Womack and Rebecca Selem have worked closely with Aranda for the Leland Gallery and previously as her students.
“As a person and a professor, she’s always been someone who goes out of her way to say hello to her students,” Vann-Womack said. “As an artist, she’s someone who incorporates all aspects of her life into her work, and it’s always fascinating to see the personal lives and interests of our mentors.”
Similarly, Selem said she has been positively impacted by having Aranda as a professor, mentor and friend.
“I would describe Professor Aranda as a gentle soul with a purpose,” Selem said. “Her art is meaningful and
deliberate. She paints subject matter that is important to her, and she paints a story that she wants to share with the world.”
Each one of Aranda’s paintings is special to her for different reasons, and they each hold a unique significance. Her favorite piece she has done, however, is called “En El Desierto, Hay Canciónes.”
“One of my favorite pieces is the one I created in graduate school at the University of California San Diego for my master thesis show,” Aranda said. “The exhibition was focused on community. I represented the community I come from, and in the paintings I wanted to show where that place was. The piece is called ‘En El Desierto, Hay Canciónes,’ or ‘In the desert, there are songs.’”