March’s featured artist of the month is Brooklyn-born, Candida Alvarez. She is well-known for her bold and colorful creations such as the piece featured above. I became acquainted with her work through her involvement within Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting featured in the Clark Collection, titled “No Chickens,” is particularly special because we added it while it was still being made.

Since 1998, Alvarez has been a tenured professor of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Alvarez works in a range of diverse mediums, including but not limited to sculpture, collage, and painting. Her work is often highly complex. It is full of pop, historical, and modern art references, while also incorporating world news and personal memories.

Alvarez says herself that “my work is more about what holds it together than what it ultimately looks like.” She works with a process called “active search,” which refers to how she incorporates material both from the world around her and her own experiences.

Heavily influenced by her own experiences, she has said that observing how light filters through a stained-glass window still affects how she approaches abstract art today. Alvarez likes to play with abstract and figurative paintings, while still maintaining a strong connection to daily life.

Many of her works are untitled and those with titles often refer to whatever inspired her from everyday life. For example, a painting from 2019 is simply titled “It was so dark, I could see the stars.” The simplicity of the title allows the artwork to speak for itself. Alvarez seeks to build abstract narratives within her work, linking the story with the imagery itself.

The overarching aim of Alvarez’s work is to “expand the hybrid space of painting while maintaining a crucial connection to daily life.”

Alvarez has won various awards and grants for her work. Most recently, in 2019, she was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. The grant is awarded “to recognize artists who are making exceptional work, who are deserving of greater acknowledgment on a national level, and who will benefit from the recognition and funding that the award provides.”

Alvarez’s work has been showcased in two exhibitions at the Monique Meloche Gallery titled “Latinx Abstract” and “Estoy Bien.” To find out more about Candida Alvarez, visit her website or watch this interview with her fellow collaborator, Terry R. Myers.