ABOUT: Olga Ayala believes that art should be both beautiful and functional. “Growing up, there was a ‘don’t touch’ mentality to the art I saw... I found that very frustrating,” she explains. “Why couldn’t we touch something that was beautiful?” As a consequence, much of Ayala’s polymer clay artwork is interactive, featuring moving parts and vibrant colors that invite viewers to touch the pieces directly. “I just like to have fun and educate people in my work,” she says. Part of that education is showing people that “art is not a dead medium.” Another part is teaching herself as much as she teaches others: “as my art grew, I also grew as far as learning about my own culture.”
COMMUNITY VISIONS: While Ayala recognizes El Taller Boricua as a cornerstone of El Barrio’s art community, she would like to see “another bricks-and-mortar establishment that is available for people who’d like to give workshops.” She notes that many artists in the neighborhood, including herself, would like to give community workshops, but “the problem is often location.” “Portraits, photography, film, crafts”-- it doesn’t matter, as long as there is a place for people to gather. In addition, she believes “there is still a role for education to play for art in the community.” Educating community members of all ages on the artistic process can benefit both artists and local residents.