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Life & Work with Caridad Sola

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caridad Sola.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Wow, where do I begin? It feels like there are so many facets to my career and a million chapters in getting to where I am today. I knew at a very young age I wanted to create. Growing up in a household filled with creativity ignited a fire in my soul for it. I watched my father design and build his own dream home while watching my aunts and uncles paint the night away while my mother sang her heart out. It only made sense that I would end up wanting to be an artist and an architect. I also witnessed my dad work extremely hard. He instilled an incredible sense of work ethic in me. And it is that tenacious work ethic that really got me where I am today.

After I earned my dual bachelor in Architecture and Fine art in Miami, I dreamed of going to New York City to get a Master’s in Fine Art. Looking back on this now, I realize this was one of the best decisions I ever made. While there, I ended up getting two more Masters, one in Construction Management and another in Real Estate Development. This trio of knowledge not only gave me opportunities but formed the foundation of my career.

I knew I wanted to work on something special, not just any other job. So after a 7-month job hunt, I finally got my foot in the door with the construction management team that was rebuilding the World Trade Center Site while it was still Ground Zero. I spent ten years on that project and learned invaluable lessons in every way you can imagine. This is when I realized that education is really just the groundwork; what you learn on the job is what really builds your career and your future.

Fast forward to today, having over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, I have worked for architecture firms, private developers, museums, facilities management companies, and now one of the largest cruise lines in the industry. I have exhibited my art in New York, Miami, Connecticut, Philadelphia, with many more places in the works.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not at all. Progression is rarely linear. I’ve had my share of disappointments but always knew that if things didn’t pan out how I wanted them to, that’s because there was undoubtedly something better intended for me.

I like to divide my career in two roads. One being the architecture/construction path, and the other being the art path. The first road is a more typically approach to a career. You get a job, you work hard on a project, you excel, you start another project. You get all the benefits from having an employer and a steady paycheck. The other path of my career, the art – now that’s where I struggle when it comes to making it into a lucrative profession.

When I know what I need to do, I do it 10000%. But when I don’t know what I need to do, and there is no defined path to success, it can be challenging to feel like anything you are doing will get you to where you want to be. The art world is a world like no other. I still struggle with this today. There is a part of me that blames this on my father (and others) for telling me I could never make a living out of being an artist. “It’s a hobby” people would say. I have hated that word my entire life. “Hobby: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” I’m sorry, but my greatest passion in life cannot be categorized under the same thing a stamp collection is in.

But the hard truth is, I have no one but to blame but myself. I know my father had my best interests at heart. He didn’t want to see my struggle. And his advice did get me where I am today.

However, there will always be a part of me that knows I could have made it as a “full-time artist”. But I wasted 15 years believing I couldn’t make it into a real career. It’s not too late though, and this is where I stand today, at a turning point. I know that if I dedicate the amount of work ethic that I do with everything else in my life to finding out how to make it as an artist, I will.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As an installation artist, I awaken your senses. Dark soil wrapped in white sheets, bricks suspended in air by delicate sheer ribbon, and red-feathered pillow fight in a white room. I invite you to feel the materials: stick your hands into water, walk barefoot on pillows, feel the slight roll of freshly-cut sugar cane underneath your feet, smell the feathers, the soil, the cane, and hear the sound of a beating heart or water lapping. I reveal the beauty, buried memories, and richness that everyday objects hold.

Through the transformation of space and exploration of my body and others, I create memories. I have a passion for the grandiose, the dramatic, and the theatrical. I expose viewers to rituals, collective memories, and metaphors. But like memories, these experiences will not last. Installations are ephemeral after they are de-installed, all that remains are memories, documentation, and artifacts.

From bricks to pillows, I create unforgettable experiences.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
Luck… now that’s a tricky one. Is it luck, or is hard work, or is it fate, or is my life even deserved? I’ve struggled my entire life with the guilt of feeling too “lucky”. Why me? Why was I born into an amazing and supportive family, have been given an amazing education, and all these opportunities? Why me, and why do others not get the same blessings. That is a question I will never be able to answer. But the one thing I can say with all certainty – is that I didn’t let this luck go to waste. I’ve worked my #ass off my entire life to make sure I didn’t. Luck can only get you so far.

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