June 11, 2015

Since her graduation in 2014, OMALIX has been carving an exciting career in the arts. She graduated with a BFA concentration in painting and Magna Cum Laude from UCF. OMALIX’s selection of deeply symbolic personal paintings and photographs are currently on view at the Sirona Fine Art Gallery, Hallandale Beach, FL.

Below is her email interview with Yulia Tikhonova, UCF Art Gallery director:

Why did you choose UCF?

I was born and raised in Venezuela, and even though I was always drawn to crafts and drawing since I was a child, I unfortunately didn’t have access to any art classes because they were not part of the regular curriculum over there. I started studying architecture in Venezuela and I continued that path when I moved to the U.S. 14 years ago. Orlando has always been my main residence ever since I moved to the U.S. I got my A.A. at Valencia College; then, I studied a year abroad in Colombia, and, when I transferred back, I went to UF because UCF didn’t have an architecture program at the time. After transferring, I felt like my love for architecture wasn’t the same, and I decided to change my major. I still felt the need to stay within the creative field, and my initial idea was to get into graphic arts. So, I studied my options and decided to enroll at UCF because not only it offered a great program, but it also meant being able to stay in the city I learned to call home.

What did you like most about it?

I really liked the core courses in the art program (2D and 3D Design fundamentals, Drawing I and II). I think they build a very strong foundation, specially the approach the program has to the drawing courses. I remember feeling it was intense at the time, but the results you get out of those classes are extremely rewarding. You really see amazing progress.

Most colleges have a specific personality that goes beyond its academic offerings. How would you describe UCF’s personality at that time?

UCF embraces diversity and I think that is why I met incredible people that I’m now lucky to call friends. During my time there, I built wonderful relationships and memories that I will treasure forever. Students had inspiring faculty and a sense of community that created a fun and friendly yet respectful learning environment.

What would you have changed while you were at UCF, if you could have a power to change things? What would you change now?

The only thing I would have changed then and now would probably be to add an elective course or a workshop that could offer tips and more in-depth knowledge on the business side of the art world, so that graduates are more prepared on how to deal with all the business formalities, galleries, collectors, curators, commissions, art grants, contracts, etc. I did have a wonderful mentor, who was always willing to help if I had any questions, and I also think most of these things I will end up learning along the way, as I’m trying to do right know, but it would have been nicer to feel more prepared.

What motivations did UCF empower you with? Who were your mentors from the Faculty list?

I had the opportunity to learn from very talented professors like Robert Rivers, Dennis Ahearn, Larry Cooper, George Donald, Francis Martin, just to mention a few. They are all not only knowledgeable and great at what they do, but also encouraging and inspiring. My painting mentor for my BFA degree was Carla Poindexter, someone I have great admiration for. She is always willing to help, to offer her expert advice, to challenge her students, and, more importantly, to guide them so they can move towards finding who they are and what they have to say as artists.

How did your time at UCF shape your decisions and choices in your life and your career?

My time at UCF has an immense influence on what I am doing right now. Although I had always been drawn to the arts, I was hesitant to pursuit fine arts because I had never taken any formal art classes before. When I decided to switch from my architecture major, I initially thought of pursuing graphic arts. However, the professor I had for my 2D Design fundamentals class in my first semester at UCF changed my life. Her name is Viktoryia McGrath and she’s no longer part of the faculty at UCF; I believe she left after that semester. In that class, one of the assignments was to do a master copy of a painting. Even though I hadn’t really painted before, I decided to make a copy of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. At the time, I wasn’t really sure of what I was doing. I was just following some instincts. If we look at that painting today, of course it wasn’t the greatest, but I suppose that because she was a painter herself, she saw much more in me that I had imagined. We had a long conversation that day, and she advised me to follow a painter’s path instead. I can’t be any more grateful of having that talk with her. Thanks to that, I found the courage to pursue fine arts and had the magnificent opportunity to discover my passion and what I was really meant to do.

You can find more information about OMALIX on her website

Click here to read our past highlight about OMALIX

Opening reception at the Sirona Fine Art Gallery
OMALIX at the Sirona Fine Art Gallery
OMALIX at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts