Chilean artist Rafael Cuevas figured out early on that he didn’t want to use his psychology degree to practice in a traditional avenue.
Cuevas, a dedicated drawer and doodler from a young age, transformed himself into an illustrator and artist, completing pieces for publication, commission and individual sale.
But his psychology roots didn’t disappear from his career.
Cuevas taps into his psychology training to create art with a purpose, a specific message he’s trying to convey.
He is bringing that knowledge to LSUS for two workshops Thursday – one for students and one for the University and community at large.
Cuevas will be presenting “Cards, Decks & Illustration” from 11 a.m. 1 p.m. in Bronson Hall before discussing “The Creative’s Journey” at 6 p.m. in the Cyber Collaboratory Technology Center.
Cuevas uses his own winding journey of becoming a professional artist to describe “The Creative’s Journey,” a play off Joseph Campbell’s popular “Hero’s Journey” that describes a character’s transformation during an adventure which ends in victory.
“(The creative process) is more of a travel than a burden,” Cuevas said. “I was always traveling and looking for my place, and I was able to reach what the point of my life was about.
“I’ve been drawing since forever, making doodles in my notebooks. But psychology has given me an insight into art. How do people feel about art, what’s the message people get? You figure out how to say something without words.”
Cuevas describes drawing as a function – most of the value comes from its derived meaning.
“You study and learn and form yourself – nurture yourself to that topic,” Cuevas said. “That’s what psychology gave me, the process of studying, watching, observing – seeing how people talk.
“Joseph Campbell is my shepherd in that I felt involved with his theory. Through the creative process, you walk through these phases, and you’re growing and thinking. How do you feel about the work you’re doing? You’re not a machine, you work with your emotions and others’ emotions.”
LSUS Spanish professor Dr. Sam Cannon found Cuevas’ work on social media as Chile continues a decades-long process to rewrite its constitution adopted under former military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Cuevas created a tarot card deck that mapped the social and political processes of the nation onto 22 traditional archetypal tarot images.
“I began following the development of his political art and how it engaged the constitutional debates in Chile in unique ways and related it to larger, archetypical processes,” Cannon said. “Rafa’s individual style intrigued me because he incorporates symbolism in very particular ways that suggest his background as a psychologist, specifically as someone who has studied the work of (psychologist) Carl Jung.
“Rafa’s work tends to transcend the rational/conscious mind and communicate via symbolism to connect with inner sensations of peace and comfort, but his work is also profoundly moving in the sense that most of his pieces suggest processes of change and transformation through relationships to archetypal imagery.”
Students interested in attending Thursday’s “Card” workshop should RSVP to Cannon at Samuel.Cannon@lsus.edu. The workshop will use computer software, and the particular Bronson Hall lab will be chosen based on the size of the audience.
Cuevas will include finishing touch techniques in Adobe Photoshop as well as how to use textures among other workshop topics.
“The main goal of the workshop is for folks to leave with the sense they are on the right path – maybe they just need some direction,” said Cuevas, who is in the United States visiting his mother in North Carolina. “I just want to share a friendly reminder that someone is walking the same path.”
The evening workshop will delve into the “Creative’s Journey,” discussing not only Cuevas’ path from psychologist to artist but how to develop a creative process that fits each individual.