Shadow Work: Spotlight on Kandy G Lopez

At Arlo, we love art, and proudly supporting a diverse lineup of creatives, year-round. This month, Arlo Wynwood is honored to recognize Black History Month with several art events, including the opening reception for the Living Room Gallery’s exhibition of works by Afro-Caribbean multi-media artist Kandy G Lopez, Our Shadow Remains.

Here, Lopez shares details of her creative process and the intentions behind the show.

In the past, you’ve created portraits from yarn. Here, your work includes stained glass and print/watercolor portraits. What connects the work in this exhibition?

As an Afro-Caribbean female artist who was raised in Miami, representation of spaces that are being erased or “beautified” is important to me. It is as important as the residents who are being evicted from their homes and communities. People say “home is where the heart is,” but whose heart? The gap between rich and poor continues to grow throughout the country but especially in Miami. Minorities in South Florida create these spaces of culture that are then redefined and repurposed for specific individuals who don’t care to see the connection. Our Shadow Remains tell these stories.

Why did you choose to work with stained glass?

Stained glass has a long history of experimentation and representation, especially in churches. I grew up Catholic, and images within and outside of the churches do not represent what I look like, or my community. The traditional western canon of art history follows the trend of European imagery and the erasure of those who built these spaces. Stained glass challenges me and it is a way to see ourselves in spaces where we “don’t exist.”

What do you hope people who experience the exhibition will ponder, or come away feeling?

Community and clarity. I would like people to see themselves, critique, question the repetition, and try to come up with answers for themselves. Most times, we look for answers from others and don’t take the time to ask and answer the questions within.

There is a compelling strength inherent in the people you portray. What is it that draws you to the people in your portraits?

Their confidence. It is that person who walks into the room and takes your breath away with their entrance. That presentation of self is addicting. Some know they have it, others become aware of it after our session. It is also a way to add their image to the history of portraiture.

Some of the work in this exhibition was inspired by a residency you attended in Samaná. Can you tell us more?

I received the Broward County Artist Innovation Grant in 2023 and applied to the NACAN residency in Samaná, DR. My family comes from Santo Domingo and I have finally come to terms with my Caribbean background. I am now interested in representing the otherness in the Dominican Republic. This residency is located in one of the most touristic places in DR and one of the poorest. We go there for vacation, take in the beauty of the island, the people, the food, the culture but don’t bother to get to know the workers and their struggles. This project is dedicated to those that remain unseen on an island that struggles with identity and visibility. 

The presentation of Our Shadow Remains at Arlo Wynwood coincides with Black History Month. What does Black History Month mean to you?

We shouldn’t have a month to celebrate Black History. This should be year-round — like white culture celebrates their heroes. It’s a nice idea wrapped in the formative ideals of America.

You’re an educator as well as a working artist. (Lopez is a professor at NOVA Southeastern University). What is your vibe as a teacher?

I’m chill and serious. I take my discipline as seriously as a scientist. As artists, we research, hypothesize, test, regroup, and try again to find a solution to a problem, in a creative way. NSU is a science-driven university and the arts programs are challenging the ways we are perceived by educating the community on our processes. Most people see the outcome and think this is fun. To be an artist is to be unapologetically you. You are your own cheerleader. You have to believe in yourself and your gifts, even if it’s only you. This is hard physically, mentally and emotionally. It is work. But it is the most rewarding work when the belief becomes a monetary realization. There are many paths within the arts. You can make your own lane.

Now, for a lightning round. Favorite things to do in Miami?

EAT. And people watch!

Which musical artists are in your current rotation?

City Girls, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, J. Cole.

2024 goals?

Enjoy sabbatical by creating artwork as if it’s my #1 job

Our Shadow Remains is on view at Arlo Wynwood’s Living Room Gallery throughout February. Follow Kandy G Lopez on Insta at @kandyglopez.