...Art has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Exhibiting my artwork "professionally" in preschool, taking painting lessons, hating piano classes, dancing in school performances every year, severe stage fright, taking IB Visual Arts in high school, the Fine Arts program in College, joining the choirs... the arts have permanently been a part of my life. ...and I remember wanting to suppress it and become more academic, more eloquent, more conceptual... But really what makes me happy is creating and learning. Whether I am fumbling with a new stitch or singing in my car, it's all I want to do.
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Good morning class,
For those of you that don’t know me, I am Gabriela Arosemena Lachman. I am a Panamanian artist and artist teacher. Yes, I am from Panama City, Panama.
Here’s what happened.
Basically, I don’t remember how things started, but I know my dad has been collecting artwork since before I was born, and I guess my mom must have observed some behaviors in me, because I can remember being in some sort of art class outside of school throughout my entire childhood, and being in kid art shows, too. Something I have always stood out for was being quite dexterous with my hands: being able to hold and manipulate tiny things and fix broken things, learning to type extremely fast, using color unapologetically and making confident and deliberate marks.
By the time I reached eleventh grade—what we know as IB Diploma—I wasn’t afraid to launch full force into portraiture, and researched favorite artists such as Chuck Close and Egon Schiele. Of course portraiture is challenging because there’s always the dreaded “it doesn’t look like them”. Being in high school, I had ruthless critics that could have made me give up, but practicing is what makes us improve, and everyone has to start somewhere, so I did.
Of course though, that’s enough exaggeration about my self-confidence—by the time I started IB Diploma I was already sold on the idea that painting wasn’t an acceptable career, and I was terrified of what I was meant to do with my life… I’d been doing art this whole time and now I had to change? At that time my other interests were psychology and literature.
…I said, “I don’t care I’m going to study art.” And so off I went with my sponsorship to Spartanburg, South Carolina. That idea lasted one semester. My study-buddy from Art History I told me “take Intro to Interior Design, it’s only one month, you have nothing to lose” … and that’s how one month turned into 3 years of college and 4 years of work when I returned to Panama. The truth is interior design is fascinating and I love it, but in practice, it didn't take long before I got depressed from not using my hands enough and started learning how to do lampwork, which really brought joy into my life, when I wasn’t tired after work and could do it during my free time.
Once I was doing pretty well at work as the assistant to an important interior designer, I was getting praise for my efficiency and getting more responsibilities, I gave up. I had that nightmare moment of thinking this couldn’t be my life, “I can’t do this… I am pretending to be something I’m not, I am not creating enough, I can’t possibly do this until I retire, the stress and pressure is destroying my stomach, this is not OK.” And I searched within myself and thought of all of the possible artist jobs I could reroute to and what those jobs were like in terms of quality of life… and I chose art teacher.
I began my master’s studies in art education and gave up my life as a designer around 2013. I was very #blessed to get to work at international schools and learn about education both through my studies, as well as having access to some of the very best teachers in the country. I also really fell in love with my students, ages 3–12.
In 2017 I was ripped out of my job and had to leave Panama and take a sabbatical because of my husband’s job (he’s an orthopedic surgeon bla bla bla) and almost magically the paintings started happening again. I had loved being a full-time teacher but to be truthful, I wasn’t really creating there either.
We lived in Cali, Colombia, for one year, and I did a lot of yoga, skating, dancing, and painting.
I experimented and settled into a completely new medium (acrylics), I knitted, I embroidered, I travelled to 8 different countries around the world (thanks Octavio)… It was more than good.
We are back home in San Francisco, Panama City, since 2018, permanently, and I am arting and teaching... in that order.
Because of the pandemic, we have paused the art lessons temporarily, until we are all vaccinated.
Would you be interested in a piece or an art class? Let’s get started.
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