By Britni Rachal
Portrait by Weston Carls
Artwork by Angélique Ferrão
Artist Eye View:
Angélique Ferrão first pursued art after immigrating to New York City at age 15 and working multiple jobs while attending school. While art was once just a hobby, she says the death of George Floyd in 2020 compelled her to quit her job and start a portrait series centered around the Black Lives Matter movement.
You are known for using a variety of mediums and loving “working big.” Can you tell us more about that?
“I studied photography under Roy DeCarava and have indelible marks left from learning under such a great artist. I had no qualms butting heads with him on darkroom printing practices, but we were always in sync on portraying our photographed subjects with respect. While photography did not teach me how to work big, it taught me how to approach my subjects and to be aware of the power dynamics involved. Street art is what got me working big. I started as a teenager in NYC with spray cans and markers. Then I got an art studio in Long Island City close to the (now demolished) 5 Pointz building. There I did small murals, stenciling and wheatpasting. When I moved to Austin, I used a lot of house paint for commissioned murals around the city. Working on large walls made working on large oil paintings a fluid transition.”
“My love for working big comes from enjoying the innate body kinetics of using my whole body gesturally like a sweeping dance over the canvas. You have to have complete confidence in your movements.”
For various collections, where does your inspiration come from?
“It comes from talking to strangers. I’m curious about their childhoods, family structures, cultural dynamics, socio-economic backgrounds, personal and generational traumas, achievements, motivations and ways of thinking. I am also fascinated with ideas. I love coming across a jumble of disparate information and finding an elegant solution or connection. One thing that repeats in the chaotic noise of humanity’s experiences is the common thread of how starkly similar we all are. I guess, funny enough, I am inspired by the varied yet kindred.”
Tell us a little more about your attention to detail.
“It’s beautiful and brutal. I get very focused and very, very intense.”
Out of all your collections, what has been your favorite and why?
“My current series. It has forced me from the outskirts into the fray and taught me not to be a shy outsider, that I have a responsibility to something larger than myself.”
A lot of your paintings focus on oils. Can you elaborate on why?
“I taught myself how to paint knowing only the ‘fat-over-lean’ principle. There’s been so much joy learning from the many trials and errors. I’ve been painting in oils for a while now but feel it will probably take thirty more years to master it. It’s humbling knowing I am playing a long game where there are no quick fixes, no shortcuts. It’s been the most challenging and fulfilling medium to work with.”
How do you best put your personality into your work?
“My personality is analytical, creative, logical and empathetic. I’m instinctive and intuitive when I work, but I also draw on a lot of information I’ve methodically gathered.”
You have several works in progress on your site. We’d love to hear more about them.
“The works are from an oil on canvas series close to completion entitled ‘Everyman.’ It contains ten portraits of black men in Austin from a wide array of backgrounds, interests and careers. The series celebrates black culture in Austin and wills inclusivity into the city’s visual lexicon. It also examines complacency in the fight for racial justice within other minority groups, especially within the South Asian community.”