Lorena Williams is a lot of things, a painter, jewelry maker, artist, mother, grandmother, and most importantly the first woman for this season’s artist of the month!
El Paso born and raised and a Bel Air High School graduate, Lorena is another artist whose influence derives from the thriving culture around her.
“I am inspired by my culture, this region, and my personal history and that of my family. The pieces I have been creating lately have been inspired by my grandmothers and I find I must create these pieces so that our history can continue to be handed down in my family. Perhaps becoming a grandmother had a hand in this. My work is full of symbolism, I believe myself to be a storyteller and I do so through my work.”
Being raised in the Segundo Barrio area of El Paso meant that it was almost impossible for Lorena not to become something other than an artist.
With its vast history overflowing from both sides of the border, the Segundo Barrio is now the heart of what happens when two communities' (El Paso and Juarez) express their culture through art!
“My work is a reflection of my surroundings and vivid memories growing up in two countries. My pieces are an interpretation of my past memories and how I relate to these memories today.”
Her most notable and personal favorite piece is titled Repatriation which is her chine-colle print that was inspired by her paternal grandmother.
“In the 1930s, the U.S. repatriated millions of people (brown skinned) to Mexico in order to open more jobs for white Americans during the Great Depression. Repatriation is in honor of my grandmother and others affected by this repatriation and to those that were forced from their homes. This piece was created to honor a population of people that were displaced from their homes/land. This piece symbolizes survival and the strength of the human spirit.”
Lorena’s yearning to pass these skills on and keep the history flowing through her work is one other reason she returned to the classroom but this time, to teach.
It makes it a bit easier for Lorena to help younger artists understand the method of adding meaning to one's art as she is gifted with the ability to practice what she preaches.
“I have a bachelor's degree in Art Ed from UTEP and have a master's degree from TX Tech. I’ve been a high school art teacher (Hanks HS) for 12 years. I teach Art 1,2,3,4, AP Art and will offer Dual Credit Art Appreciation next year. I taught middle school art prior to this.”
Her many devoted years to teaching and practicing multiple forms of art has made her a master of her trade.
“I am very well versed in several forms of art, I am a silversmith, painter, printmaker, ceramist and multi-media artist. I also enjoy drawing, but my drawings are very personal to me and I rarely share these with anyone. I owe this versatility to the great education I received both at UTEP and TX Tech.”
Lorena has not only become a beacon of inspiration for her students but for the community of El Paso as well.
With the right skill set, mindset, and community around her, it was only a matter of time before the city of El Paso recognized Lorena as a gem of the art community.
“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t an artist. I’ve been doing art since I was very little, my mom would put my drawings in plastic sheets, from old photo albums (1970’s photo albums) and would line the plastic sheets with colored tape and tack my drawings on the wall. It sent a strong message to me to see my mom put those drawings up. When I was a teenager, I would create drawings and write poetry on them and give them as birthday and Christmas gifts. Art has always been a part of who I am.”
Her pieces are nationally recognized as they are currently on tour throughout the country for two years with other respected and cherished artists.
Rightfully so as Lorena is constantly on the go when it comes to producing her art because her muse comes in waves that she is not always expecting.
“The piece I am working on right now came to me when I was making breakfast one morning and I cracked an egg, this image came to me of a broken, shattered heart. I turned off the skillet and began sketching the cracked egg. I have photos of this on my Instagram page.”
Art, Lorena tells me, is not something you can just study but is something that must resonate with not only the viewer but the artist.
“I just want people to enjoy my work and I hope they appreciate my style. I’m always thrilled when my work resonates with someone and they feel compelled to buy it.”
For younger artists who are still searching for a sense of direction, Lorena suggests spending time in learning your craft
“Practice, practice, practice. Educate yourself as much as possible, taking workshops, watching videos, studying other artists and if possible, enter a good art program.”
Lorena can be contacted through her Instagram @nenasart or you can purchase her pieces on her Etsy at nenasartanddesign!