The Last Word

A quick questionnaire with James De La Vega

smithsonian.com

1. Three words someone else would use to describe me are rude, inspiring and hopeful.

2. My greatest professional influence is my mom Elsie Matos.

3. My fondest memory is my experience with my father growing up as a kid. He died when I was really young.

4. The last book I read was about Winston Churchill.

5. If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead it would be ... Castro and Clinton. Dead, it would be Picasso.

6. Three things I can't live without are without my mom, just one.

7. The most pressing issue facing the world is the idea of classes—the idea that as much as human beings have evolved, people are still living in an upper, middle and lower class.

8. The most important lesson I ever learned was don’t compromise your position too much. You got to be who you are, even if it goes against everyone else.

9. My advice for those just starting out in this profession is to probably read a lot, read a lot about history, art, contemporary things going on today in society. Learn about a lot of things that interest you. The more information you have available to you, the more equipped you are to deal with some of the challenges that come later. Churchill has a quote that’s something like, there’s nothing more tragic than when destiny comes to tap you on the shoulder and says it’s your time to seize the opportunity, but you’re unprepared to deal with it.

10. My motto is ... well, the idea behind my art is “becoming a dream.” That’s the idea that I encourage. Do something powerful with your life. A lot of people work for someone else, but I am a big believer that you can go out and work for yourself. But throughout my life, my motto has been: “Try to stay true to who you are and what you are.”

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