Artist / Venice, CA / March 2014
“I worked with Ava, she has pink hair, and that is amazing to me because I always wanted to have pink hair or blue or whatever color. And I was never brave enough to do it. So that first interaction, I was like, I wanna work with the pink haired girl.”
Rachel Bujalski: Why did you sign up to do the Mirror, Mirror Project?
Diana Garcia: I received an email from Rachel who put it together and she explained the project — I immediately fell in love with what she is trying to do. And I’m always up for supporting the development of people’s talents. I feel I’ve been so lucky and blessed that people have supported me through my career; my different talents — people have pushed me to do it. And I feel I just have to give back something. Plus, it’s just so much fun; to learn from somebody else’s world, intimacies, and their day-to-day; It’s super interesting and beautiful to me.
RB: Tell me a little bit about your path as an artist – what intrigued you when you were little and why did you start to be an artist?
DG: I grew up in the painting studio; my grandmother is an artist and kind of gave that talent to me or helped me develop it. I used to spend hours on the weekends drawing and doing sculptures. But that kind of stopped when I had to decide what I could study – I didn’t want to make art a job because I thought it was so pure and beautiful and I enjoy it so much that when it comes to making money, I didn’t want to stress about it. It’s kind of dumb to think that way but I mean, I guess life puts everything how it should be. So I decided to get a Communications degree. After finishing it, I realized that I wanted to move out of my hometown of Monterrey. So I moved to Mexico City and to survive, I started doing commercials. And a few months after, I got offered a movie. And six months after, that movie went to Cannes, and then the next year, I had like five, six movies. So, I didn’t really choose to be an actor, but then there I was, with all these opportunities and something that was easy to do for me. And I just, you know, kept doing it. Plus, when I was younger, I thought whatever the actors were doing in movies was fun and interesting and kind of easy, in my perspective. And then there I was, working on that.
But when I moved to LA and I had to get into the movie business — I didn’t love that process. It’s too intense here and it’s about money and it’s not about telling good stories and I’m very loyal to that. That’s a problem here because sometimes people that want to help you out don’t really understand that because for them, it’s a business.
So it’s been a process for me to shift or to mix both talents; things I want to do. But for now, I’m trying to keep doing my acting, still going on auditions and at the same time, keep drawing and developing that.
So two years ago, I started drawing again after seeing my boyfriend, who’s an amazing musician, being so passionate about what he’s doing everyday. I was like, that’s crazy I don’t get to really feel whatever he’s feeling with acting. I mean I do, at some points, but there’s very little of it.
So I said to myself, maybe that’s not my real passion. Then I remembered I had this thing growing up and I reconnected with that — started taking classes at UCLA, and then my teacher Joe Blaustein, who’s an amazing artist, he’s 90 years old and he just guides you to where you have to go; he doesn’t tell you what to do. He just subtly guides you. So I’ve been painting with him and taking private classes he does and I’m just very blessed at my age I can reconnect with something that I hadn’t had for a few decades.
RB: Do you see yourself in some of the youth when you’re working with them?
DG: All the time. All the time. I worked with a couple of girls that are super sweet, they’re loving and they’re in the search of what I think everyone is looking for… which is love. And they’re young and they have dreams. And sometimes, those dreams were broken, just like everybody, you know? But some people, for some reason, take different paths and different lifestyles.
So I relate with them because they’re energetic, and they want to travel, enjoy life, and I want to do that. And it’s just how they talk. I relate to them when I was younger; I see myself there. I’ve learned so much from them as well.
I’ve learned to how to let go and understand that whatever I think is the right way for me to do things; it doesn’t have to be that way. And there are so many different options in life. And that being in the streets doesn’t really mean anything else but just doing what they want. They choose to be there. Because you are responsible for yourself and they really want to be there. Some of them do at least.
And they have fun. They are not attached to a daily routine that we have and that we struggle with. It’s just a different lifestyle. I learned not point at something when I don’t really know the background. There’s just different ways to live life and they are living a different style.
I’ve learned to let go a lot because of them.
RB: Did you just recently learn to let go of that judgment?
DG: I mean, it’s a process we’re all doing in life, you know? But the conversations with them and learning that they choose to be there — they could be somewhere else. They have people that can take care of them. Or they could be doing something different. Or doing a job. Or whatever.
We choose to have structured lives. Which I don’t know why we do because it gets boring sometimes and it’s annoying to keep up with life with all the bills we have to pay and moving the cars from one side to another one. Just like random things we do every day. They don’t have to deal with that and that’s amazing. I want to be able to say one day that I’m not going to do any of these things that are super annoying. It was really interesting to just share both of our perspectives in life and come with different options.
RB: What specifically did you connect to Tracy on and can you tell me a little bit about each of your partners that you worked with when you were sitting face to face with them and doing portraits together.
DG: With Ava, she has pink hair and that is amazing to me because I’ve always wanted to have pink hair or blue or whatever color. And I was never brave enough to do it. So that first interaction, I was like, I want work with the pink haired girl.
She’s such a beautiful soul. She’s sweet and she just wants to love and find people that want to build a community with her. She loves traveling. I love traveling. I did a lot of traveling in my youth…I used to love traveling and I still love it but now I have all these things to do. That, I admire, because she’s like, no, I’m not going to get a job because I’m going to travel. And that’s awesome! I wish I could have done more traveling and be as free as she is with that.
Ava is an amazing and talented drawer and painter. She really impressed me with what she came up with. And she’s very detailed, as I am, and we both draw with a pen and a piece of paper. We don’t really use paint and that was an immediate click.
With Tracy… Tracy intrigued me from the beginning. She came to me and was very confident. She said, “I’m a photographer and I’m doing this…” I was like, who is this girl? Is she one of the artists? Is she in the program? I didn’t really know because she was so strong about what she’s saying. And she tells you she’s a photographer and she is! You see her photos and they are amazing. And she’s traveling and trying to capture beautiful moments of her lifestyle and that’s beautiful. I have my phone all day with me and I take a photo of every detail and I connect on that with her.
RB: So you couldn’t tell that she was homeless or not. Do you think more people need to have that perspective and erase that judgment?
DG: Yeah because we don’t even know [their story]…they’re homeless because they want to. I mean, we could be homeless if we wanted to be. I have to say… I feel it’s really brave to be homeless because it’s not the safest place. But it’s a very free lifestyle and it’s bad to judge [from the standpoint of] people who have a structured life. It’s just a different kind of life. Yes, there’s drama behind it, as we have drama. It’s nothing different. It’s just choices.
RB: No, this is perfect. Why is this project important to you? Why is it important to the youth?
DG: This project is really important for me because it was an opportunity to connect with someone and I love sharing. In a very selfish way, I’ve learned so much from it and I always do when I do this kind of project when I work with other people that aren’t my friends or family that are in my life all day long. I just try to share and spread love and spread whatever messages I’ve learned about how to deal with life because it gets hard right?
For me, this project was also an opportunity to share this little knowledge I’ve been getting from my experiences [in life] and try to bring a little support and encourage them to be what they dream. That’s my slogan, I do this piece called “be what you dream” and that phrase is such an important thing in my life these days and I just want to spread it out. So, I spent a lot of hours talking to these girls and just asking them what they want to be. Sometimes, we don’t even know what we want to be so you have to sit down and think about it. If you don’t sit and talk about it then you don’t know what you want to do. So it’s good to have these kinds of interactions with somebody in a safe way for them, which is like doing art; we’re sharing and we’re equal. And then, you also realize you have so many other things that you want to do and you’re missing out. It helps both parties structure things and dreams and to see how you can make it happen.
RB: I knew “Be What You Dream” was your slogan, but I didn’t think realize how important that would be for you to talk to them about….
DG: Okay, for me it’s like this; it’s this simple. Okay, I’m thirsty. I need to get water, right? Where is the water? The water is in the kitchen. Where is the kitchen? That way. I’m going to walk that way. Grab a glass and pour the water.
You have to know the steps before doing it. If you don’t know where the water is, where the kitchen is, even if there is a kitchen…you’re never going get to the kitchen and get the water. For me, that’s the most important thing. You don’t know where to walk or what direction to take if you don’t know where you’re going. So that is step one. You NEED to know what you want to do. If you don’t know, you’re never going to make it happen. You can’t structure without knowing where to go. So for me, that was my goal. To question them about what they want to do in life. So Ava wants to travel, she’s traveling. Tracy wants to take photos, she has a camera; she’s taking photos. And little by little, she knows that she has to invest time in being good and developing the talent and maybe she can offer to do internships with photographers and develop it. Meanwhile, she pays her rent with other jobs. That doesn’t have to be her life but that gives her money to survive. So I was just kind of advising them to structure that.