Tahir Carl Karmali: I’d like you to tell me about how you arrived at becoming an artist and where that motivation came from?
Lucia Hierro: I remember having an interest in art via my brother Chris who was studying at Laguardia High School, New York. He went there for art. We used to read a lot of comics together and I loved watching him draw. He’s really good at just drawing anatomy, and I’d ask him to teach me. So that’s how the curiosity was sparked.
Then he ventured into music and I kept going with art, but I moved to the Dominican Republic and there weren’t a lot of arts programs when I was there so I put it on the back-burner. But that’s the only thing that I did to keep from feeling completely out of place when I was there, I would just draw.
TCK: When you decided to start thinking about formalizing your career as an artist?
LH: When I moved back from the Dominican Republic to New York, in my last year of high school my art teacher encouraged me to apply to the Cooper Union Saturday Program. And that program taught me everything. It was put in place so that students that weren’t in a specialized art high school were able to learn about materials so they didn’t have a shock when they got to an art school.
Cooper was my window into thinking, oh I can actually do this. We visited artist studios, and one was Miguel Luciano’s studio, Puerto Rican artist. He was young – his work was amazing, it was assemblage and sculpture and paintings and that was his life. He had this really cool studio and I was like, wow, you can do this. So from there I realized that I wanted to do that but I didn’t know how, and I knew that somehow applying to college was going to be the way.
TCK: How do you feel about your work being framed in your identity as a Dominican-American woman from Washington Heights, now based in the Bronx?
LH: I tend to look at it as everyone who is interested in narrative. People want to know the story of that thing or what’s behind that and I approach it that way where everybody wants to know what’s behind the thing. Like Picasso was from Spain and that’s romanticized in this way. And somehow the work makes sense because of it. And so I always see it that way and I feel like it’s inevitable to the work. I feel like it’s such a part of who I am and how I move through the world.