People of spring

We were more than honoured to meet artists from all around the world. Below, you can read the experiences of the artists that were part of Prisma Estudio’s residency program. cincin chang, Emily Han, Esrin Ue and Josh Hart-Vrijkotte, talk about art, cities, hopes and dreams.

What part of yourself do you express through art?

Josh: I don’t think I’m super good with words, but I’m pretty good with feelings, and this is a part of what I express. I am a visual person, and that’s why I express myself through design.
Emily: I think I tend to be more analytical, but my recent process is trying to break free from that and be more free-flowing, and art is a means for this process.
Esrin: I feel like I’m a translator; I translate what I perceive in this world to other people, whether it’s smells, sounds, or people. It goes to my body and comes out as a form of artworks.
cincin: I’m a person who really enjoys asking myself questions. That’s what I really like to do through art, asking myself questions and expressing the answers through art.

How do you feel about your work being exhibited?

Josh: Stressed (laughing). It’s a different feeling because it becomes more personal, and that’s what makes it a bit more vulnerable.
Emily: I have to say I am excited about that; it’s fun to see what is going to happen. I really enjoy putting things together and seeing the outcome.
Esrin: I love it (laughing). I love to exhibit my work. Of course, before the event, I’m also feeling nervous, but while exhibiting them, I like to see the appreciation from the audience. I mean, I think that everybody enjoys being validated in a certain way. Also, I like to hear what other people think when they see the artworks. But what I learned from the last residents’ showcase that I took part in was that I also enjoy exhibiting with other artists. I was showing the audience the artworks of my friends, and that felt really nice for me.
cincin: I also love it so much. I really enjoy doing exhibitions for myself. It’s so much better than birthday parties. It’s always a huge thing for me because people that I love are there. Another thing for me is that I also love curating exhibitions, creating a universe from my mind directly into a space is just magical.

What was your first impression of Prisma? Was it right after all?

Josh: I firstly thought that it is kind of chaotic, interesting, and vibrant, and I think this was pretty on point.
Emily: It’s a really nice collective, very welcoming. People are really open-minded here, it feels like a great space to be, as a new person in the city.
Esrin: I thought that it would be too loud and chaotic, but I really enjoy these aspects of it right now.
cincin: For me, it would be the sounds as well. Also, sometimes the flies are a problem. What’s with this city and the flies?

What’s your next step after the residency?

Josh: Apart from going hiking in Italy, I will keep on making art. My goal is to become more committed to it and make it a full-time job.
Emily: I will be traveling a little bit, but then I’m coming back to Lisbon and continue to do some more independent projects until I have to go back to Hawai’i.
Esrin: I want to get settled in Lisbon. I had this plan for my life for some time now. This city has something really magical; I can totally see myself evolving here.
cincin: I’m working towards my dream, which is having my own artist residency. We already have a really cute house, and we are going to transform it. The goal is to have a coffee place and a studio that I can share with other artists and try to make this project attract as many creatives as possible.

It’s a common belief that the world of art can be challenging sometimes. What keeps you committed to it?

Josh: I feel really lucky because it’s my current job, but I constantly realize how lucky I am that people want me to do this for them. I love seeing people enjoying what I create for them; it’s a great job.
Emily: For me, it’s a spiritual practice. I don’t do it for recognition or something. It is a way to process my experiences, share, have fun, so this is what keeps me going.
Esrin: For me, it’s the fact that I know for myself that one day it’s not going to be challenging anymore, and I feel that’s what keeps me going. I love what I do, but I also feel like if it is going to be so challenging forever, then that would be too many years of struggling. But I feel like focusing on my work will lead me to not have to go through this, and I truly believe that one day the challenges will be easier. In these times, artists have to be the ‘sellers of themselves,’ and that can be so exhausting.
cincin: I do think art is challenging, but not doing it is more challenging for me. I don’t want to be in a company; this would never fulfill me. I just believe I want to live on being creative, in whatever way. Not being able to express myself would definitely be more challenging for me; that’s my motivation.

What made you choose Lisbon for your residency?

Josh: I was already here, so I think it was the most convenient choice for me. I enjoy this city and its chaos; New Zealand is a lot more chilled than here.
Emily: Probably because of the connections it has with my country; it’s sunny, and people surf here as well. For sure, the fact that there is a huge art community in Lisbon was a factor that affected my decision as well.
Esrin: I was in another artist’s residency, three hours away from Lisbon, in a rural area, so I was visiting the city during the weekends. I really fell in love; the crush I had on this city was getting bigger and bigger.
cincin: A couple of years ago, in the pandemics, I watched so many European movies in the cinema. So, I came across this movie from Wim Wenders called ‘Lisbon story,’ and it’s such a simply nice movie, I really loved the perception of the city that the director gave. It made me cry so much that my friend had to tell me in the most romantic, cliché way that I might have lost a part of me in this city and I need to come back and find it.

How has the Prisma residency influenced your personal and artistic development?

Emily: The residency mostly gave me space and time to develop some concepts I have been thinking through, but also some formality and a setup to tie some things together.
Esrin: I feel like I became more resilient here. First of all, with sounds, I was feeling really sensitive, but being in this crowded city I started to feel used to it. Artistically, I feel like I made a huge step. I was always painting; now I’m going more into a special direction.
cincin: I completely feel safe to be creative here; I really appreciate the artists here; they make me feel like the art I make is valuable.

During your residency, what unique challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Josh: I am a designer, so I mostly design what clients ask me to produce, and designing stuff with no certain reason was not something I’m really used to doing. But I’m trying different stuff now and new techniques, and it helped me that I was surrounded by artists that are just doing art for themselves; it made it seem normal for me as well.
Emily: It was mostly the whiplash of the pace that impacts my art. Coming from a place where I’m surrounded by nature, suddenly I found myself in a crowded city, and it was a really fast switch. It was a fun process, but sometimes it also became kind of challenging.

How has the cultural environment of Lisbon shaped the work you’ve created during your residency?

Josh: Probably it was Prisma that affected me the most. Seeing all of these artists creating, having workshops, DIY-ing was a great inspiration for me. Everybody here has a great energy.
Emily: Just being in the sunshine feels recharging. Also, there are so many things going on. Coming from a slow-paced island, it’s nice to be back in a city environment and absorb all the energies that flow around.
Esrin: Lisbon has a really light energy, and this influenced my work a lot. The chaotic placement of houses here inspires me so much.
cincin: I love the color combinations, and the tiles as well. On the other hand, nowadays, coming from a country that has been colonized by so many political parties, I’m really interested to see how it is from the other point of view and get to know other parts of history as well.

As your time at Prisma concludes, what key takeaways will you carry into your next creative project or phase of your career?

Josh: That it’s okay to make something just for yourself, without being asked. Also, I was trying to work analogically, drawing stuff on paper, and I came to the realization that this way is not really helpful for me. I realized that I have to be comfortable with my process and accept it.
Esrin: For me, it was, for sure, the proof that I want to work among other creative people. Most people don’t believe that, but for me doing stuff with people that you share the same passion with, your energy gets to a whole other level, and I feel like you can attract all the good things in life.
cincin: For me, it was the fact that I saw how another residency works. My future goal is to have an artist residency in Taiwan, so I got some experience doing this here.

April’s Residents group photo, Prisma Estudio, April 2024

You can learn more about the artists through their channels:

Photography/Interview: Sofia Konstantinidou

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