Five Things About the Future of Work and How it Will Affects Us

After months of adjusting to work and life merging in such a way that we feel like we are working 24/7, it’s only natural to wonder what comes next. Is this what the future of work will look like? Will offices become a thing of the past?

Through their Work Trend Index Report, Microsoft has explored which of the remote working changes to workspaces are likely to become a permanent reality in the future. The report draws its conclusions from a combination of insights like how Microsoft costumers use their tools, a Harris Poll Survey of people working remotely in six countries, and research data from projects including surveys, interviews, focus groups and even studies on the human brain.

Future of work- Photo Credit- Chris Montgomery-Unsplash

Future of work- Photo Credit- Chris Montgomery-Unsplash

5 things about the future of work you should know

1Goodbye to Nine to Five Weekdays?

According to the study, our unique circumstances have bound home and work-life in ways that have forced everyone to make quick adjustments and shifts. This means that household tasks will need to mix with work ones – a reality that became evident as more and more videos of kids crashing meetings became available on social media. For some, finding a balance has had to do with negotiating schedules and working outside of the customary office hours.

Microsoft’s study found that people have not only been working outside of typical workday hours (before 9 am and after 5 pm on weekdays) in the past few months, but that they’ve also been signing on during weekends for team chats and meetings. With things like commuting to work gone and, in many cases, a less rigorous morning routine, those first few hours of the morning have become priceless for people sharing living and workspaces.

Did you read: Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home?

2You Can Still Look Forward to Office Days

If those mornings of juicy office gossip and general camaraderie are something you still miss every day, you can relax because you’ll probably get them back. At some point.

The study found that while many companies will probably decide to make working remotely an option, physical offices are not likely to disappear completely. Yes, remote work can be incredibly productive and save companies money in more than just office space, but there are also many reasons for these spaces to stick around.

In their research, Microsoft found that 82% of managers expect a more flexible policy as things begin to normalize. With 71% of managers and employees who hope to continue working from home a few days a week.

Still, getting away from the distractions of home, an ergonomic work environment, a stable connection and those priceless moments of human interaction that take place in these spaces will possibly keep offices as a part of the future of work.

We will go back to the office as part of our future work- Photo Credit- You X Ventures-Unsplash

We will go back to the office as part of our future work- Photo Credit- You X Ventures-Unsplash

3Remote Work Fatigue and Making Connections

Tired of work-related video chats? You’re definitely not alone. In fact, the study showed that remote work is more taxing on our brains than in-person interaction. While some may find working from home more relaxing than going to the office, there are aspects of spending so much time on the computer that affects us emotionally and physically.

Researchers from Microsoft’s Human Factors Labs ran a study to understand how the brain responds to collaborating remotely through computer screens compared to face-to-face interactions. They found that working remotely is more mentally challenging, with higher levels of stress and a more recurrent tendency for overworking. Video meetings can be more demanding and there are several factors leading to “meeting fatigue” including a prolonged focus on the screen and a lack of non-verbal cues.

More than half of the people surveyed confessed they feel less connected to their colleagues when working from home. A predictable issue people everywhere have been struggling with as we all face an inescapable fact: interacting through a screen just can’t compare with spending time with people. Things like body language and the kind of interactions that happen organically still can’t be recreated online.

Don't miss: Mental Health: Taking Care of Yourself in Isolation

4Back to Work Pains

The study found that while remote collaborations are more mentally challenging than in-person interaction, the back to work and normal human interaction could be much more trying than many may have anticipated. According to the study, people have found it more difficult to go back to work after these months working remotely.

This happens because while work strategies and certain ways to connect socially can be transferred to an online environment, “the opposite is untrue.” After so much time spent with ourselves and our families or housemates, it will be difficult to adjust back to co-exist with other people at a safe distance in a shared space.

Findings about the future of work- Photo Credit Tina Witherspoon-Unsplash

Findings about the future of work- Photo Credit Tina Witherspoon-Unsplash

A positive effect of the pandemic…

5More Empathy and Inclusion

There have also been positive changes as a result of our circumstances which will, hopefully, stick as we move into the future of work. Over 60% of the people surveyed said that they now feel more empathy towards work colleagues and their personal struggles than before. Employees and managers are willing to create shifts and adjustments to accommodate working parents, people sharing their workspaces and other challenges that have resulted from this crisis.

Remote work has also fostered a more inclusive environment for some people to thrive and express themselves. Half the people surveyed by Microsoft said they feel more valued and included because virtual rooms make everyone look more, and feel, or less the same. Additionally, in-meeting chatrooms have created another forum for people to speak up and share their perspectives with the rest of the team. The future of work may offer a chance for wallflowers to shine!

The pandemic changed the future of work and how it will affect us and our lifestyles. But it has also created opportunities, made us more empathetic to the specific difficulties faced by our colleagues and created a more inclusive environment for remote collaborators. Through new updates on Teams that include Together Mode (a shared virtual background for all users) and Dynamic View (an adjustable view of shared documents and participants on the screen), Microsoft hopes to address some of the issues of remote work. Among them, reducing meeting fatigue and helping people feel more connected to their colleagues while working apart.

If you are feeling isolated and not quite yourself, don’t skip this post: Isolated and alone. Surviving the quarantine

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Business Dreams Alive in Times of Crisis?

It seems impossible sometimes, but it is not. Keeping your business dreams alive in times of crisis requires creativity, innovation and perseverance. Today we tell you the story of how two Puerto Rican entrepreneurs are doing it.

This has been the case for Arlyn Vázquez, owner of a pastry business called Chic & Divine Sweets, and Elizabeth Vázquez, creator of Medic-Citas, a micro-business dedicated to transporting disabled or at-risk people to medical appointments and personal events. These two inspiring women work hard to keep their business dreams alive. Dealing with the impact of the pandemic on an island that was already affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and several earthquakes earlier this year.

Chic & Divine Sweets is a business dream that came true thanks to Arlyn Vazquez vision. Photo Credit- Holly Stratton-Unsplash

Chic & Divine Sweets is a business dream that came true thanks to Arlyn Vazquez vision. Photo Credit- Holly Stratton-Unsplash

The Birth of Two Business Dreams

ALINE CERDÁN – Tell us a little about your business, how did it come about?

ARLYN VÁZQUEZ, CHIC & DIVINE SWEETSI had been thinking for a long time about the idea of ​​establishing my own business. I come from a merchant family. My parents had a grocery store for more than 30 years and almost all my brothers have businesses. So, I took community entrepreneurship classes in the city where I live and then I started taking various baking courses. In the process, I realized that not many people knew what macarons were, and those who did, thought they were too delicate to make. So, I started to perfect my technique. I started selling to friends and family while still working for a company.

In 2016, just when I lost my job, I participated in Saborea Culinary Fest, one of the most important gastronomic events in all of Puerto Rico where the most recognized restaurants participate. That helped a lot with product acceptance and gave me the courage to talk to more people.

ELIZABETH VÁZQUEZ, MEDIC CITAS Medic-Citas is a micro-company that specializes in transporting elderly, children, youth and adults with functional diversity to their medical appointments, treatments, dialysis, laboratories and private or family events. Our vehicles are equipped with a ramp to move them in a safe and comfortable way.

Before starting my business, I decided to quit my job with an airline. It was closing its base in Puerto Rico and I would have had to move to the United States. My parents were very sick at the time and my main responsibility was to be with them until the end. I was in charge of taking them to their appointments. Getting them in the car was always a struggle. Then, someone told me about a company that offered this type of service. The service was requested at the Veteran’s Hospital for my dad and I was fascinated with the type of work they did. I learned about the process of having that type of job, the requirements, etc. That is how I decided to start this business that fills me with satisfaction, love and empathy for clients who are mostly elderly.

Medic Citas is Elizabeth Vázquez business dream - Photo Credit- Unsplash

Medic Citas is Elizabeth Vázquez business dream – Photo Credit- Unsplash

Adjusting Business Dreams in Times of Crisis

AC – What transformations have been necessary to keep your business dreams alive in times of crisis? What adjustments did you have to make after the pandemic?

AV – Unfortunately this crisis has affected all entrepreneurs, but especially small businesses. I have focused on staying positive, looking for alternatives and products that people can consume and work from home. For example, I started selling boxes with cakes clients can decorate at home, an alternative where the whole family can participate and then enjoy a homemade cake. In the same way, I began to offer empanadillitas (mini turnovers) so that people can fry them at home on a Sunday as a family while having a day by the pool.

EV – These events have shown us how vulnerable to any natural and man-made situation life is. Difficult times that have affected our economy and health. My business dreams continue to be firm in these situations. I think it has been a time to analyze, study the situation, remain calm and confident, and save money.

AC – What are some of the biggest challenges as a post-hurricane Maria business owner?

EV – Hurricane Maria paralyzed our services for a month until medical appointments were normalized. It was the first time my work routine was affected. But the appointments resumed, and we started working, thank God. That made me analyze how to prepare financially for an event like the hurricane or worse. The biggest challenge is to continue believing in what I do and to not allow myself to fall when confronted by any situation that might appears. Everything is about being assertive, protecting what you have, feeling passion and waiting for the exact moment to start or continue growing. Never stop no matter what.

AV – Thanks to the fact that we have a power plant, we were able to make the product and deliver it to all the points of sale quickly. We didn’t have much time between making and storing, so we made the food and delivered the same day. However, they say that “the misfortune of one is the grace of others” and one of the points of sale that we have now was thanks to the fact that another company that made desserts couldn’t continue to supply.

Practicing solidarity economy helps multiple businesses achieve their dreams.

Practicing solidarity economy helps multiple businesses achieve their dreams.

Important Lessons in Times of Crisis

AC – What do you think is the most important thing you have learned about how to keep your business dreams alive in times of crisis?

AV – Stay focused and positive. Always look to learn from others and look for alternatives that fit the market’s needs and the moment.

EV – Believe in my dream, love what I do, have passion for my business, don’t let it fall without fighting first, move obstacles, reinvent myself, open doors and close those that are not convenient.

AC – What recommendations would you make to other small business owners fighting for their dreams and businesses at this time?

EV – I recommend that they don’t give up. That they fight for their dreams. It is not always easy but it’s never impossible. They will encounter obstacles, but their dreams are bigger. I’d recommend they start their business with a business plan they can follow through each step. Don’t start a business with debt. Go little by little. Don’t be anxious, the business will grow slowly.

AV – That they never give up, that they persevere and that they believe in themselves. There are always difficult moments in a business, but we have to know how to learn from them and move forward.

Photo Credit-Alysha Rosly-Unsplash

Photo Credit-Alysha Rosly-Unsplash

Solidarity Between Puerto Rican Businesswomen

AC- How does your business impact the local economy? What is the best way to support small entrepreneurs and businesses in our communities?

EV – Positively! First, the local government injecting capital by giving jobs and paying government taxes and patents, being a self-sustaining company. Second, I serve as an example to motivate others to become financially independent.

Being in solidarity with small local companies. I like to use the services of my people and consume what my country produces. That is what stays here in my homeland and in this is how we support the communities to grow and expand.

AV – The best way is buying their products and promoting them. Currently we are the first in the Google search for macarons in Puerto Rico. Anyone who likes to taste a fine dessert such as macaron, calls us. They are a dessert that is used at parties and even as gifts at special events such as weddings.

AC – Where do you find the strength and inspiration to keep going when everything feels most difficult?

AV – My family is my greatest inspiration and my strength to keep going.

EV – First, in God who guides me and has never abandoned me. Then in the testimonies of people who have gone through difficult situations and motivate us not to give up. It strengthens me remembering where I was before and what I have achieved so far.  That gives me the drive to continue fulfilling my dreams and goals.

Solidarity Economy in Action: Inspiring Puerto Rican Businesswoman

Lucy Carrasquillo is committed to a solidarity economy. She believes that every businesswoman has what she need inside her to get ahead and not only keep her dreams alive, but help the dreams of other small entrepreneurs flourish.

The inspiring Puerto Rican businesswoman is in charge of Centro Gomas Savarona, a family automotive business that she and her siblings have managed to transform and keep afloat through the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the current global pandemic.

After earning a master’s degree in management, Lucy joined her husband at ConsultCom, a company dedicated to helping those considering starting a business through training and personalized attention. But in addition to being an indispensable part of the survival of both companies in times of crisis, Lucy supports efforts to rebuild her country by investing money in local companies. How? By creating and supporting responsible projects and entrepreneurs interested in a better and fairer world.

Her philosophy exemplifies the values of the Solidarity Economy, which aims to inspire a social transformation to give rise to fairer, more supportive, planet-conscious societies interested in making the global and individual changes necessary to prosper. Organizations participating in this movement are committed to creating opportunities, encouraging education and development, changing their consumer habits and finding ways to adjust politics and the economy to the needs of the majority.

According to Lucy Carrasquillo, every woman entrepreneur has all she needs to succeed inside her.

According to Lucy Carrasquillo, every woman entrepreneur has all she needs to succeed inside her.

Female entrepreneurs doing great things

Solidarity Economy: Supporting the Dreams of Others

ALINE CERDÁN – Can you tell us a bit about ConsultCom and Centro Gomas Savarona and how they came about?

LUCY CARRASQUILLO – In my career, I started to manage the businesses almost without realizing it. In the case of Centro Gomas Savarona, when my oldest daughter started school, I had time and needed to earn some extra money. So in 1997, I approached my dad’s business and started in the administrative part since I had a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in secretarial sciences. There, I started as the owner’s daughter with managerial functions. Little by little, together with my brothers, we began updating and innovating in my dad’s business, which started in 1985. When my dad died in 2014, I started to have shares in the business. In other words, the second generation managed to keep a successful business. Here I started out of need, but as time went by I realized that I was a businesswoman. I was in charge of compliance management, marketing, human resources…

ConsultCom is a business that my husband started and which I later joined after completing my master’s degree in management. I love it because we are dedicated to providing training and business support for people who want to start a business. With that in mind, we created a local model with a methodology to provide people with the basic tools and guide them through the initial process of starting a business. I am fascinated by what we do because it is not only providing business training, we include accompaniment and we go further with our entrepreneurs. In many cases we know their stories and their setbacks, we listen to them, we encourage them to identify that in themselves the strengthsthey need to achieve their business dreams.

In our model the key is to be there for the entrepreneurs and the fact that we promote another way of doing business,from a different logic: the Solidarity Economy. That is why we create alliances, support local businesses, care for the planet, treat and pay workers fairly. Success is also achieved by companies that help others. Problems like global warming, labor injustices and inequality move us to create another way of handling the economy.

Lucy Carrasquillo de ConsutCom es un gran ejemplo de una emprendedora que apoya a emprendedores- Photo Credit- ConsultCom

Lucy Carrasquillo de ConsutCom es un gran ejemplo de una emprendedora que apoya a emprendedores- Photo Credit- ConsultCom

How to Keep Dreams Alive In Times of Crisis

A.C.– How has your business had to transform to keep your dreams alive in times of crisis? What adaptations were necessary after the pandemic?

L.C. – In the case of the automotive business, we shut down for two months. We got a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which helped us keep our workers and established a cleaning and disinfection protocol. We all wear masks for protection and respect physical distance. Here I am very concerned about the safety of our workers and clients. I am always on the lookout for complying with protocols for everyone’s health. “If I take care of myself, I take care of others.”

On the other hand, at ConsultCom, it has been a challenge since we work in group training and our design includes a lot of contact. We do group work and individual business advisory meetings. But in the face of the pandemic, we moved our training to a virtual platform and, to our surprise, we managed to retain 75% of the participants. Some were unable to continue with the training due to problems with the internet, lack of equipment or personal situations such as caring for their children and older relatives.

Training and support have been a challenge since it is not the same as when it is in person. But given the circumstances, we have managed to maintain a relationship with the majority and, even in this circumstance, seven businesses were established, ten are in the permit process and another eight are prototyping.

A.C. – What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as the owner of your own business post-hurricane Maria?

L.C. – In 2017, when our island was hit by Hurricane Maria, the situation was very depressing. For months we had nowater and no electricity, it was quite a challenge. With the automotive company, we had a cistern and a generator and we were able to continue providing services.

In our consulting company, all services stopped. The energy was poured into surviving and supporting our community’s basic needs. There were calls, meetings and community activities, and solidarity emerged to support each other. Solidarity was what helped us all get back on track. Emotional support was very necessary to help lift us up as a country. At ConsultCom it took us 5 months to restart our work.

The challenge was maintaining a positive attitude and keeping the faith that this difficult time was going to end and we had to move on. I had to be strong and encourage others. When you focus on helping others, it helps you focus on working for a better future.

The solidarity economy promotes a more equal world where we all live better-Kelli Stirrett-Unsplash

The solidarity economy promotes a more equal world where we all live better-Kelli Stirrett-Unsplash

Another great female entrepreneur who empowers women

Resilience: The Fundamental Ingredient In Times Of Crisis

A.C – What do you think is the most important thing you have learned about how to keep your business dreams alive in times of crisis?

L.C. – After having experienced Hurricane Maria in 2017, the earthquake in the south of our island in January 2020 and the pandemic in March, times certainly require us to be resilient. We have to be in constant change mode. In times of crisis the attitude must be positive and flexible. Always looking for ways to innovate. If it doesn’t work one way, we move on to the next. Always paying attention to what the client needs and working with them. This pandemic is also giving birth to a new, more demanding and digital consumer.

A.C – What recommendations would you make to other small business owners fighting for their dreams and businesses right now?

L.C. – These difficult times require us to identify that vital force that moves us. Every businesswoman has what they need inside to get ahead. That strength, persistence, and shrewdness. Every businesswoman has potentials that she must awaken and start using. In our training, we talk about business self-esteem because the engine of a business is the person. If the entrepreneur becomes aware and identifies her abilities and what she needs to grow, she will look for how to develop those. She will experience an inner liberation and conceive herself as capable. And that awareness will help her achieve her business goals.

The majority of the people in our training groups are always women. For example, in the last training group we completed in June 2020, 56% were women. This data indicates that women, in their quest to complete their entrepreneurial dreams, take action to prepare themselves and become an entrepreneur. They take time to go throughthat process. We have several success stories from business owners such as boutiques, the first co-working in Caguas, pastry shops, catering, beauty salons, event coordinators, transportation and others. We are also currently working with a restaurant, life coach, pet groomer and others.

Women have management skills (at home) and those same skills are put in place to manage businesses wisely. We know how to take care of physical resources and to manage funds.

The advantage of being part of the solidarity economy is that people support each other. Photo Credit-Content Pixie-Unsplash

The advantage of being part of the solidarity economy is that people support each other. Photo Credit-Content Pixie-Unsplash

Buying Locally Is Part of The Solidarity Economy

A.C – How does your business impact the local economy?

L.C. – In the automotive business we have 10 workers and therefore we are the livelihood for their families. Purchases are made from distributors in Puerto Rico. Our business has been providing services for more than 30 years and I have been managing it for 23 years.

At ConsultCom, by promoting the creation of charitable businesses we also create awareness of supporting local businesses. (A principle of the solidarity economy.) When we asked the most recent group we completed in June 2020 if the program helped them broaden their awareness of the importance of consuming locally, 100% said yes. In these moments of crisis, one of the ways to contribute to the economy is to buy from Puerto Rican businesses, since that way the money stays in our country.

A.C – What is the best way to support small entrepreneurs and businesses in our communities?

L.C. – Promoting another way of doing business taking into consideration the solidarity economy and empowering our people so that they have the ability to create their own businesses. In Puerto Rico, according to economist Manuel Lobato, for every 1,000 inhabitants, 12 businesses are created. That statistic is very low. We at ConsultCom contribute to raising awareness and provide training to change that reality. We can all be businessmen and businesswomen. Those who decide to get their hands on the process and achieve that business goal will make it happen.

It is a matter of will and seeking support in order to bring the business to fuition. The best way is with business training aimed not only at the technical aspects of how to establish a business, but also including the emotional aspect that can accompany you through the process.

A.C – Where do you find the strength and inspiration to keep going when everything looks so difficult?

L.C. – When things around me are difficult and even depressing, such as after the hurricane, I take even more refuge within myself to regain new strength to deal with whatever comes. I am a person with values and convictions, and I have a purpose in life to help others discover their inner potential. So, I must be connected with myself, with my inner strength and my light. And that light comes from God.

You can contact Lucy Carrasquillo at lucy@consultcompr.com

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Making a Difference for Women in a World in Crisis

The global pandemic has changed the rules of the game. It has redefined how we live and work. And it has also forced businesses, big and small, to reevaluate priorities, reinvent themselves and sometimes even abandon all hope and close down after years of hard work. Today we talk about businesses making a difference for women in this new normal.

While the pandemic has taken its toll, it has also inspired many businesswomen to build resilience and find ways to adapt. Helping the economy, keeping their businesses afloat and proving once again that women not only belong in the workplace, but we are also instrumental in helping it get through the hardest times.

Making a difference for women. Photo Credit- Evgeni Tcherkasski-Unsplash

Making a difference for women. Photo Credit- Evgeni Tcherkasski-Unsplash

Women in a World on Crisis

Women are more likely to work or own businesses in some of the sectors that have been hit most during the pandemic: Hospitality, food services, retail, and so on. In fact, many burgeoning businesses have been forced to either close their doors permanently or take an indefinite break while they come up with a plan. Others have managed to survive by adapting to the times, changing their strategies, and making difficult decisions like laying people off (often people who have helped build the business) and reducing their paychecks and other expenses.

But while the odds are against many of them, we identified a few small businesses that have found ways to remain open. We hope they inspire you to continue making a difference for women in a world in crisis.

Female businesses are key to making a difference for women in a world in crisis- Photo Credit: Siamak-Poorjam- Unsplash

Female businesses are key to making a difference for women in a world in crisis- Photo Credit: Siamak-Poorjam- Unsplash

Adapting and Making a Difference for Women

The ability to blossom professionally in times of COVID is closely related to finding the right way to pivot your business plan. Here are some innovative women who figured it out.

1 Shayla Sheppard, founder and CEO of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, found a way of going from depending primarily on the brewery’s beer hall to selling their products online. She looked at alternatives and ended up including a new canned beer option as well as brand merchandise.

2Crystal Evuleocha is another example of a business owner who was able to pivot her company services. Kliit, the digital health company she founded, provides sexual and reproductive health services and information to people who might be less inclined to go for a checkup. But as hospitals begin to use up all their resources fighting COVID-19, Evuleocha has been working on creating virtual consultations that will allow women to access life-saving information and treatments regardless of what kind of insurance they have.

3Chavonne Hodges, founder of  GrillzandGranola has created Workout from Home sessions for the whole family at affordable prices as well as free therapy sessions when her company was forced to cancel all the health classes, sessions and events once restrictions were enforced in the States. The company offers therapy and coaching sessions that aim to give all underrepresented women of color an “inclusive and culturally-attuned fitness experience”. Aware of the importance of their role in the community, and of the difference they make for women.

4Irma Olguin Jr. is the cofounder of Bitwise Industries, a tech company committed to designing technology that can help people and their businesses grow. The company helps create a more promising future through programs dedicated to teaching people in marginalized communities to code (Geekwise) and employing some of their emerging coding talent to build custom software (Shift3 Technologies.) Olguin also helped create OnwardCa.org in hopes to match people who lost their job as a result of COVID-19 to those needing help. A country-wide version is now being created and can be found at OnwardUS.org.

Building resilience and learning how to pivot can help you make a difference-Photo Credit -Bruce Mars-Unsplash

Building resilience and learning how to pivot can help you make a difference-Photo Credit -Bruce Mars-Unsplash

Reimaging a Post-COVID World

In spite of its many challenges –and perhaps because of them, too– this could be the perfect time for companies to take a good look inside and start to make important changes in the right direction. Towards more inclusive and self-aware corporations that truly care about their communities and want to see them grow and prosper.

Women who are making a difference for their companies and their communities in this precarious economy are a glorious response to all the doubters who still exist out there. Hopefully, the way they have piloted their companies through stormy and unstable waters will serve as inspiration to women with big empire-building dreams. After all, they’re rock stars reimaging a better future.

Some think that it was only a matter of time before something like this came and shook up the way business is conducted around the world. That we’re at a point where global business stakeholders and our own communities need to evolve and embrace inclusivity, collaboration and sustainability – or go under. To change or be buried under those who have come to understand that it’s essential to grow, build partnerships and learn from those already practicing innovation.

 

 

 

 

The Art of Inclusion: Scherezade Garcia, visual artist

Scherezade Garcia was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, into an artistic, socially and politically aware family. It’s easy to see that they inspired the art of inclusion she practices.

Her family nurtured her natural talents and encouraged her to experience a world full of diversity in race, languages, ideologies, and beliefs – all of which are connected by a rich and sometimes ignored history that becomes an integral part of her multi-layered art and the stories she tells.

The interdisciplinary artist is based in New York City. She sits on the Advisory Board of No Longer Empty, an organization dedicated to curating site-responsive pieces that encourage conversations within communities and create unique and inclusive platforms for upcoming New York artists. García also co-founded the Dominican York Proyecto Gráfica, a printmaking collective involving 12 artists of Dominican descent. In New York she’s represented by Praxis Art Gallery.

Scherezade Garcia has consistently strived to defy the norms and address the contradictions of a world that is full of them, as well as the many experiences we share. She approaches them through a lens that brings focus to history, religion, migration in search of “a new land” and a better life. Her pieces are intricate stories that layer medium, that aim to encourage dialogue and, more importantly, inspire action and resistance.

This year, the Red Shoe Movement commissioned her the limited-edition collection of 20/20 Bells that the company features in its Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas initiative.

Scherezade Garcia and the collection of bells commissioned for the Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas. A great example of the art of inclusion.

Scherezade Garcia and the collection of bells commissioned for the Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas. A great example of the art of inclusion.

Aline Cerdán – Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started as an artist? What was your family’s role in your journey to finding a multi-cultural voice?

Scherezade Garcia – I like to say that I come from my childhood, and indeed I do! I was born into a family where storytelling, music, visual art and political awareness were important. Many early memories are connected to our visits to exhibitions, to the theater, and to explore our country. We used to go on road trips to see the country and visit famous historical sites. The conversations about the natives (Tainos,) the Spaniards (Criollos,) the Africans, the French, and the English, our relationship to our sister nation Haiti, and the USA occupations were part of our conversations. It helped me shape my sense of the Caribbean. It unveiled to me the complexity of being from this side of the “Atlantico.”  I was always drawing, and my mother registered me in art classes, then my sister joined me. Many of my Dominican artists’ friends attended those classes as well.

I also had the opportunity of traveling to the USA and Europe at a young age, and those experiences fascinated me! Without realizing at the time, I was curious, outraged, and intrigued (all at once) by our world. It is that collective experience that we all share, the richness of different points of view, the fantastic possibility to experience new flavors, to understand that we are somehow all connected, helped to established in me the importance of family, and then a broader community.

For Scherezade Garcia de Atlantic has a special meaning

For Scherezade Garcia de Atlantic has a special meaning

Scherezade Garcia, book author

AC – Tell us a little about ’Scherezade García: From This Side of the Atlantic’ and what it was like to exhibit your work with your sister iliana emilia.

SG – The books “Scherezade Garcia: From This Side of the Atlantic” and “iliana emilia: The Reason, The Object, The Word,” both edited by Olga U. Herrera, accompany our mid-career survey exhibition “Visual Memory: Home + Place.” The books are about our artistic trajectory, and the chronologies, interviews, and essays portrait our creative lives from a young age to now. The title of my book conveys my fascination with the history of Las Americas. I am fascinated with the experience of Las Americas and the crossing of the Atlantic. My work intends to unveil the many ongoing cultural encounters that continually shape, reshape how we view, perceive, and color Las Americas.

 

My sister and I shared our family, our upbringing, and our values. We usually don’t collaborate, but since we were young, we were always a team. My mother always celebrated our differences, and that was very effective for the success of our sisterhood team!! We overlap in many interests, but the way we interpret, represent, and relate to our world is different. That’s our forte! It is a smooth sail to work with my sister because we complement each other, and we don’t even have to discuss it, it is an organic process. I usually note that she approaches her work from the inside, the personal, intimate; while I approach it through a collective lens.

AC –You’ve talked about a balance between old times and new, how often do you find history repeating itself while working on something new? Are we learning from our past?

SG –As an artist, I aspire to beauty and truth. Such search takes me to a territory “in-between”, searching for balance, and far away from “absolute truth.” I wish I could say with confidence that we learn from the past; the events of our current state of affairs scream about our lack of respect for the history that we all share.

AC – Your work is inclusive, multi-layered and often interdisciplinary, can you tell us how that’s a reflection of your personal history and why layers are important in your pieces?  

SG – As a Caribbean woman, I intrigued and enamored by the many colors residing in my skin, and the presence of many communities coming afloat in my language. It is a landscape of extremes, nothing speaks of balance in the multifarious outcome of this “new land,” the consequences of so many encounters. I see it as totally minimalist or baroque. I approach it in a neo-baroque voice. My neo-baroque view is that more is more, and everything goes. I can be super optimistic and super pessimistic at once. Faith and divinity are also part of the recipe.

Scherezade Garcia inspirational quote

Scherezade Garcia is a key contributor to the action inspired by the RSM 20/20 collection of bells she painted

The art of inclusion

AC – You’ve described the cinnamon shade as an “action of inclusion”, can you tell us about the use of this mix of colors and the importance of the art of inclusion?

SG –The cinnamon figure is a constant in my work since 1996. Mixing all the colors in a palette is an inclusive action, the outcome of such activity is cinnamon color. The new race represented by my ever-present cinnamon figure states the creation of a new aesthetic where “our/everybody’s” history is told. It is all about collective memory, a narrative of union!

AC –Pink has also been used in past pieces to defy color-gender norms and the concepts it has been associated with, what are some other ways in which gender inclusion is showcased in you work?

SG – I like to defy norms by creating visual narratives imbedded in contradiction, for example, I created my oversized pink life vests, challenging the given fragility/sweetness/ of no consequence/girlie of the color pink, to engage in a conversation of survival, migration, of people crossing the sea in search of a better life. What it seems, it is not what it is.

AC –Can you tell us a little about the work you’ve done with Red Shoe Movement for Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas? We know you were commissioned to turn this musical instrument into a work of art and you created a painting called Chromatic Current as part of your Liquid Highway Series.

SG – The sea is the liquid highway and the keeper of our ancestral memory. It carries our stories, our DNA, our memories, and our history. The sea is always in motion carrying every community’s roots. With this project, through painting the bells and dressing them up of sea, I aim to imply the universal connection, the community called by the sound of the bell, and the fluidity of our identities and lives.

AC –You seem determined to tear down barriers; blend lines between countries, race, ideologies, gender, religion, language, aesthetic planes and artistic styles. Do you think art has a responsibility to create conversations?

SG – If artists are the voices of our times, we have the responsibility to provoke thought, engage in conversation and inspire action. It is the most powerful and effective way of resistance.

AC –What was the inspiration behind your installation ‘Liquid Highway’? What it is about water that’s as vital as the land it surrounds?

SG – The Atlantic, this blue liquid road and profound obstacle provokes my imagination. The blue sea represents the way out and the frontier. It maps stories about freedom, slavery and survival; it carries our DNA and it’s an endless source of stories, evolving continuously, reminding us of the fluidity of our identity, our collective memory. Resistance through beauty and joy.

Scherezade Garcia created Chromatic Current as part of her Liquid Highway series

Scherezade Garcia created Chromatic Current as part of her Liquid Highway series