Julia Sherman: Tell me about growing up in Lima. How has the city changed from the perspective of an artist?
Mariella Agois: It has changed very much. There are many opportunities for artists these days in Lima. I started as a photographer at the end of the 70´s, when it was a new thing in Peru to pursue this médium as art. There were few good galleries back then, but they only exhibited painting, sculpture, drawing, and prints. The would not exhibit photographs. There where no international art competitions, only two art schools, and few institutional spaces. Now we have many. At that time I collaborated with some friends and opened Secuencia Fotogalería, a gallery dedicated exclusivelly to fine art photography. We organized photography workshops as well, and we introduced photography as an art form to Lima. Now we have universities and other Institutes such as the Centro de la Fotografía, The Museo de Arte de Lima has expanded and has a collection of contemporary art amongst wonderful works of Pre-Columbian and modern art.
JS: Your studio and your home are in the same place, does this make you work more or less?
MA: Having my studio at home is very practical when I am hard at work preparing an Exhibition. It gets a little crowded, but I like it. Although lately I have been considering taking the studio out from the house. I wonder how it would be to go somewhere else to work. I am thinking that I could move everything, my office etc, except for my painting studio, because it is very intimate.
JS: You seem to draw on a wide variety of influences in your work; Can you tell me about some of the subject matter that has inspired you over the years?
MA: I went to school at The Art Institute of Chicago in the 80´s and lived there for seven years after school. It was a wonderful experience. I was exposed to life in the city, and to so many incredible works of art that continue to inspire me. I learned to paint in Chicago, and I developed a very direct approach to the canvas. I do not sketch, my ideas come from from something I heard, or something I have seen. I never paint by looking and drawing. My background was photographic, so that has an impact an the way I approach the canvas with immediacy. My is work changing constantly; when I feel it is done, I need to move on, though I have had a consistent interest in Pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles. They are just awesome to look at, simple, breath-taking pieces.
JS: What is the story behind this salad? Where did the recipe come from?
MA: It is called potatoes with huancaína sauce. It is a traditional criole recipe and is eaten all over Peru. The recipe comes from Huancayo, a city on the Mantaro Valley in the Center of Perú. This Valley is famous for the production of cheese and potatoes. Arturo Chumbe, in his book, mentions it was invented during the consruction of Perú´s Central Railway . To feed the workers, women cooked boiled potatoes and a sauce with chili, cheese, and milk, and a bolied egg on top.
JS: Did you really not know your hair was red until you saw my photos?
MA: Jaja, no, it was a big surprise!!!