World

Natural Surroundings Inspire Alumna’s Work, Personal Growth

Fine art—sculpture alumna Angella Holguin uses sculpture to influence, educate, and continue learning and appreciating the beauty and impermanence of nature 

By Nina Tabios

Sculpture artist and Academy of Art University alumna Angella Holguin can turn steel, wood, brass and copper into water. All of nature, really, is what inspires her; the Mexico City-born sculptor’s large-form abstract pieces take shape after the sea: coral, plants as well as nature’s perpetual state of change, transformation and evolution. It also inspired Holguin to view herself in a similar way. 

“I feel very close to the impermanence in nature, teaching me that I am also never the same, nor are my sculptures,” she wrote in an email. “They grow and evolve every day like me.”

 Holguin’s transformation into an artist started well before she graduated with an M.F.A. from the Academy’s School of Fine Art—Sculpture (FASCU) in 2017. Art was always a part of her life—her mother and grandmother were painters—but Holguin knew she wanted to work with her hands. “I like to see objects from different angles,” she said. “I prefer volume and to work with my whole body in action. For me, painting is not very physical. I like being exhausted with hard work. I feel renewed after working with my sculptures.”

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Angella Holguin with one of her sculptures. Photo courtesy of Angella Holguin.

She completed the rest of her Academy education online in Querétaro, Mexico, where her art was already a fixture in the city’s art scene. She had sculptures in group and solo exhibitions, catching the eyes of curators from Museo de la Ciudad, Galería Libertad, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo and even the Querétaro state government. In 2017, the Querétaro state government commissioned her to build a steel sculpture called “Responsum.”

“There are not many woman sculptresses in Mexico,” Holguin explained of the country’s art scene. “Querétaro is one of the cities with better quality of life so it is not only people from different Mexican states that come to live here but people from other countries as well. I think this situation forces the state to foment cultural projects; the community is diverse, competitive and there is quality in the art production.” 

Earlier this year, Holguin had her first overseas show in Paris’ Ida Médicis Galerie. The exhibition was called, “Viaje del Alma,” a series of flowing steel sculptures and delicate acrylic pieces. Though she was already showcasing work in galleries and contemporary museums, Holguin said her time in FASCU provided a scholarly perspective to the craft. Her style transformed as she was introduced to new materials like steel and brass by instructors Nils Krueger and Kathy Kearns. Lindsey Eason taught her glazes, “a lifetime process,” Holguin added, that give her current works the gloss and shimmer of the stars and the ocean.  

“Each material has its own personal language, character and a way to use its qualities to enrich my work,” Holguin said. Even hard work was a process by itself. “I learned that being a sculptor requires making decisions, discipline and perseverance. You have to work one day, another day and [the] days to follow. You have to have the will to finish what was started.” 

“It was clear to me from the get-go that Angella not only holds a great talent and clear vision as an artist,” Krueger said via email, “but she also has a great work ethic and determination that has allowed her to be prolific in her creative output.”

Like the natural world she’s inspired by, Holguin sees these cyclical processes as conduits of growth and evolution. Creating is also educating—by pulling her own inspiration from nature, Holguin hopes her art can teach and influence others to treasure the Earth as she does. 

“We as artists tell stories through our work. So let us not be fearful to tell difficult stories,” she advises. “Also, spend more time in nature. There is no greater teacher.”

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