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Art Department


Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Gabriela Ayala before her talk at Cornish February 12. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Joan Miró, "The Smile of the Flamboyant Wings" 1953, oil on canvas; fair use.

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Gabriela Ayala addresses students and faculty at Cornish, February 12. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Joan Miró, "Blue III" 1961, oil on canvas; fair use.

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Gabriela Ayala addresses students and faculty at Cornish. Photo by Mark Bocek.

Gabriela Ayala Stalks Miró

: Gabriela Ayala addresses students and faculty at Cornish. Photo by Mark Bocek.

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A recent Cornish grad, Gabriela Ayala’s internship with SAM has led her to Spain in the footsteps of Joan Miró.

It’s what we call “entrepreneurial.” Barely through the door of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) as an intern, Cornish alumna Gabriela Ayala (AR ’13) pitched an idea that involved her flying to Spain to follow in the footsteps of painter Joan Miró and blogging about it on the museum’s website. She had, at that time, just been assigned to work with the upcoming exhibit, Miró: The Experience of Seeing. To her apparent surprise, SAM said yes. Now Ayala is back working at SAM and using her experiences to reach out to area schools on museum’s behalf using the work of Miró. Her blog, Finding Miró, and her photos of Spain appear on the SAM site.

It was in this spirit that Ayala returned to her alma mater to update the Cornish community on her work. She spoke in Notion lecture hall on February 12. A group of art students and faculty heard Ayala talk about her work at Cornish and her transition to SAM, all leading up to her recounting her recent experiences in Spain and France. During her trip, she visited Barcelona, Mallorca and Paris, among other Miró haunts.

Gabriela Ayala (Ayala-Cañizares) did not originally care for the work of Joan Miró (1893-1983). She explains that, like many people, the work seemed childish. But, she says, as she opened up to what Miró was doing, his language of vivid color and striking shapes began to speak to her.  She began to understand, as Picasso, his countryman and champion, had done years before, the genius in Miró’s simplicity. Travelling in Spain and especially Barcelona to the places important to the Catalan painter and learning something of his life, Ayala discovered that Miró treasured freedom, which, visually, he conflated with simplicity. “Simplicity means freedom,” Ayala said, “and simplicity tends to look child-like.” As she saw his work close up, his studios, his notes, his habits, she grew very close to him. “It’s like I was living with him in my head.”

Gabriela grew up in Redmond, daughter of a long-time Microsoft executive. Her parents emigrated from Columbia in their 20s. Gabriela originally matriculated at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles as an English major and was particularly drawn to writing. She found, however, that she missed the weather and people of the Pacific Northwest. She transferred to Cornish to finish her undergraduate career with a B.F.A. At her talk, Gabriela started off by showing some of her work, large prints based on an understanding of yoga.

Her experiences blogging for the Miró exhibition has reawakened her interest in writing, and her outreach work has likewise interested her in teaching. Gabriela is continuing her art practice at +=studio blu=+, a print studio run by Cornish professor Kathleen Rabel, a former teacher of hers. Gabriela has sharpened her skills as a photographer by necessity, since she needed images to accompany her blog. Now she’d like to study photography. That’s a wide range of activities. She is pondering grad school, and she clearly has a number of directions in which she could choose to go and find success. On top of that, Gabriela’s writing has been of such quality that there is some thought of more work blogging for projects close to SAM and Spain.

Ayala is making just the sort of exploration envisaged by president Nancy J. Usher when she wrote of a group of recent Cornish graduates “They weren’t educated specifically for what they’re now making a name for themselves doing, and perhaps they couldn’t have been. Each of them was set free by their work here to identify currents, adapt to them and master them.”

“They taught me drawing and painting and printmaking,” says Ayala of her education, “but what I really came out with was more than the sum of that. I came out of Cornish with a huge sense of confidence.

“What Cornish gives you are skills for life.”

Miró: The Experience of Seeing is at the Seattle Art Museum through May 26.


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