Ana was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Growing up, she moved between Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nicaragua (her mother’s homeland) while it was undergoing the throes of dictatorship and revolution and Colombia while it was ravaged by narco-terrorism. These inspiring and turbulent environments heightened Ana Maria’s sense of awareness and social conscience and solidified her desire to use art as a path for bringing positive change into the world.
Velasco choses her subjects from her life and friends. At times with humorous touch, her work engages with political and social issues. She captures the spirit of her subjects, revealing a glimpse into another realm, leading the viewers through fantastic tales that invite them to weave their own story into the images they see. Ana's landscapes are populated by drastically diverse people and situations united through line, color and form. She explores how to transform a helicopter into a river, alchemize a quiet mountain top into a bullfighting ring, or unify an intimate dinner with the spectacle at a loud soccer stadium. One element flows into another, evoking translucent dreams and memories. The layered scenes often depict battlefields and sports arenas, yet the turmoil meets a paradoxical calm.
Ana Maria earned an MFA from The School of The Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Tufts University (1999). She studied at El Conservatorio de Bellas Artes (1995) and Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia (1994). Ana has studied Tibetan Art for a decade at The New York Tibetan Art Studio. Her projects and exhibitions include two solo shows, Interdependencia at The Colombian Consulate in NYC and Ficciones Retiniainas at Museum of Modern Art La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia (2001); Selected group shows at University of the West, Los Angeles California (2017); Greenpoint Open Studios @ 104 Green, Brooklyn, NY (2017); New Voices Active Space Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2014); Iona College, NYC(2013); La Casa de Arte Contemporáneo, Cali, Colombia (2012); GASP Gallery, Boston, MA (2007, 2008); Bluetenwiss, Berlin (2006, 2007); Museo La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia (2002); Garcon Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2000); Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, Boston, MA (2000); and The Gallery @ Green Street, Boston (2000).
She founded NEEM, a 501 (c) non-profit organization dedicated to promote art, yoga and meditation as alternative therapies for healing and forgiveness for children and adults affected by violent conflict and trauma. She has been a teacher for two decades.
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Indigenous people who conserve their ancient wisdom and traditions maintain a strong connection with our planet and feel a profound respect for what they call Mother Earth. The environmental activist Vandana Shyva observes, “The dominant myth and the greatest illusion of our time is that we are no longer dependent on nature, that we are now liberated, and are now free from it, while in fact, the modern, industrial, globalizing, and consuming human being is more dependent on nature than ever.” In developing situations in which people can sense new ways to understand our interdependence--a mutual and equal dependence where the involved factors benefit, complement, and cooperate--the Colombian artist Ana Maria Velasco creates a reflection through her solo show Interdependence about the interconnectivity between society, politics, and nature. The exhibition will feature a series of paintings and video artworks commemorating Colombia’s Independence Day.
Velasco had the opportunity to live with the indigenous communities from La Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia (Kogis, Arhuacos, and Wiwas) and learned about their worldview, life style, their relationship to nature, and to sacred plants. She was also taught the women’s weaving methods, which the artist translates in her paintings as a metaphor of how we are all connected in a universal scale. Velasco will present three large format paintings: Luna Llena, 2001; La Sierra, 2017; and Aluna, 2016. When observed closely, characters personifying different roles, elements, and situations of our society suddenly appear in the midst of a landscape. Inter-connected threads--just as the ones used for creating the mochilas--unite them all. A series of small format paintings reflect on the fact that ideas act as seeds that lead us to independence. Important Colombian leaders who fought for independence such as Francisco de Caldas, Simon Bolivar, Camilo Torres, and Policarpa Salavarrieta are juxtaposed with images of Colombia’s flora and fauna. The exhibition will also include a video art piece about Velasco’s experiences traveling through La Sierra in conjunction with her daily living.
The separation between art, society, and nature is one of the problems of the modern world. Postmodern theorist Donna Haraway writes, “Instead of thinking what separates our species from all others, ask how the entities in any encounter make us all the things we are. Ask how they are products of their relationships. To be human is always to be in relation with others: plants, animals, humans, dead, living, fantasized.” Art is the place were we learn to sense the real differently, but we still need to develop situations in which the general audience can sense new ways to understand the idea of unity. Velasco has been practicing for decades Indo-Tibetan traditions, and the idea of the micro cosmos and macro cosmos is a guiding principle in her life and in her art, as she believes that “our external reality is a projection of our internal world.”
Interdependence is a reflection on a pressing conflict Colombia’s society has faced, as well as the correlation between progress and destruction our world is facing. Velasco’s paintings confront us with the beauty of Colombia as well as the violence found in the complex relationship between human beings and nature. The mamos (indigenous priests) from La Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta help the planet maintain its balance. How can we contribute to create an interconnected world? A goal of Velasco is to generate discussions related to this topic and help construct an interdependent reality in our society.
- Text by Manuela Reyes
1] Vandana Shyva, quoted in Ellen ter Gast and Ine Gevers, Yes Naturally (Amsterdam: Niet Normaal Foundation, 2013)
 Liz Else, “Interview: The Age Of Entanglement,” New Scientist. Available online at https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19826611.600-interview-the-age-of-entanglement (Accessed April 5, 2016).