Dora Cuenca is a Costa Rican artist guided by curiosity, a love for nature and the everyday motherhood experience. In her art she blends the abstract and figurative to paint the way things feel rather than the way they look. Her process and final pieces cultivate, transform and transfer energy through color and shape.
Tell us about the type of work you do. Walk us through a typical day for you.
I really enjoy working on a variety of formats from murals, surface design, fine art commissions, digital illustration and I am always open to learning more ways of communicating through art. I’ve recognized art has the capacity to harness, shift and transfer energy and curiosity is the very thing that can spark this process, so it’s highly important for me to remain curious. My typical day involves all aspects of homeschooling, being a mom and running a business. Once my partner is home from work I get to my “forever list”. No day is the same. Every other weekend I work a few hours in a row. It often feels like I’m always trying to catch up. But I also recognize this is one stage of life, one where I have so much to be grateful for. So I’m not taking anything for granted.
What does your studio look like?
My studio is a tiny room in our house that was originally built as a sunroom so it gets very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. The walls are covered in color, I’ll often test mural swatches directly in the walls. I also share this tiny room with 3 somewhat messy studio mates. Each of my kids has a little work area in here for their own creative projects. They get to work more often than I do. Which is inspiring!
What are your biggest obstacles in being creative every day, and how do you overcome them?
Time is my biggest obstacle and when I do have time at the end of the day my biggest obstacle is lack of energy. It isn’t always smooth sailing but I have learned to fully embrace motherhood as an essential part of my creative process, one that is not separated from it. That has led me to be more mindful throughout my day to day and pay close attention to the inspiration that lies right in front of me. I may not have “studio hours”. But I’ve learned that recording visual information, being curious and paying attention throughout the day are great ways to have inspiration/ideas accessible to me in a moment’s notice, when there might be an unannounced hour to create.
How does Philadelphia influence your creativity?
I became a mom in Philly, far away from my family and everything I knew. It’s a place that helped me unfold in many ways. I accepted myself as an artist in big part, thank you to Philly and it’s people. It filled me with possibility. This beautiful art filled city and the people in it opened their doors to me. To think there’s art made by me living in this city, becoming part of this city is still hard to believe at times. No matter where I end up the gifts Philadelphia has given me will carry through in my art.
What woman/women are you most influenced by?
Without a doubt the women in my family, especially my mom and grandmother. I have some big shoes to fill.