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Q&A with Juan Camillo Garza

Including photographs from the series "Dark, Dark."

Published onJun 05, 2022
Q&A with Juan Camillo Garza

Q&A with Juan Camillo Garza

1. Let's start with the basics, tell us about yourself. 

Juan Camillo Garza. Ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, one mouth. 

2. What media do you mainly work with? 

It is not about the medium for me so much as it is giving loud internal forces a body to exist in. Medium be damned, the forces require a presence in the world. I am a custodian. Every day, it’s my job to sift through different disciplines and mediums until the forces are matched with something that’s capable enough for their expression. Until the bird-song finds its corresponding bird. 

Sometimes the shaking inside me finds a way to sing through photos. Sometimes through music. Other times through writing. One day, if none of these work anymore, I will simply find something else. 

3. What got you started on your current path? 

Creativity was a persistent presence in my life as a child. I grew up listening to my father playing his guitar, finding my mother’s drawings, listening to my sisters’ imaginings. Even though everyone worked, they all had these beautiful inner worlds that echoed some way into our home. I wanted the same for myself. 

4. How have things (artistically, life, whatever) changed for you over the past year? 

I lost my father who was my best friend, lost my grandmother, and lost several friends in the last two years. I feel hyper-aware of my mortality in a way I never could have before. With this amount of loss, it would be impossible for anyone to not change. I am no different. Day by day, I am a witness to myself, slowly learning about the me that is developing out from this — changing in slow-motion. 

Today, my art feels impossibly small next to everything else. But we continue. The making never stops. The machine of our spirit continues to churn out beauty. It is how we honor loss, honor love, and ultimately give meaning to it all. 

5. Who to/Where do you look for inspiration? 

If I knew where to look, I’d go there more often. 

6. What are your major concerns with the world today? 

Climate catastrophe is on the brink of wiping out humanity. We have the resources and intelligence to fight it but we’re too impossibly selfish, too stubborn. My heart goes out to the future generations that are going to pay for our gross negligence.

8. Advice for beginners (of any age)?

Learn to play, like a child might in a sandbox, and never forget this. Play is instrumental in fostering a healthy relationship with our creativity. When we forget how to play, we lose the magic that makes creativity so special. It can be a game if you let it be. 

9. Work/shows we should look for?

I’m currently finishing my first book of poems. But I have been finishing it for about five years, so we will see. 

In the meantime, Jessica Frances Grégoire Lancaster’s paintings are unimaginably special; Gabe Long is a director to look out for; Jon Sanchiz’s photographic series on Cholos is brilliant; and all of the work of my other strange friends who are out here, writing in the dark, cobbling beauty together, surviving, making.

10. Final comments? Additions? 

Did you water your plants today? 

Photographs from Juan Camillo Garza’s series Dark, Dark:

Juan Camillo Garza is a Mexican-American poet based between Brooklyn, New York, and San Antonio, Texas. They've worn many hats, including those of a construction worker, a chicken mascot, a troubadour, an inflated bureaucrat, and a cook. Among others, their work has been featured in Poet Lore, Columbia Journal, Asheville Review, South Carolina Review, Allegory Ridge, Hobart Pulp, Raleigh Review, The Oakland Review, Watershed Review and Button Poetry. 

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