Feminist art inspires me. I love seeing vivid images reflecting women's experiences. It is like I am meeting a kindred spirit when I see art that depicts women's lives. This is why when I came across the work of Natalia Atencio online I messaged her immediately. Her work is gentle, yet firm in it's beliefs, soft, yet strong visually, we just needed to know more about the woman behind it.
Natalia was born and raised in Santiago Chile. She studied and earned her degree in Translation and currently works as an English translator at the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics. Despite all her accomplishments in her field of study, her passion lies elsewhere, in her art. It was not until recently that she has started to see it as more than just a hobby. In 2017 she launched her own illustration project called Pavalesa (a nickname you call little girls when they act silly and clumsy). She has been wildly successful since she has taken her art to the public. Making it personal, Natalia illustrates portraits of people she sees every day in the city and has collaborated with many Chilean illustrators for a national retailer. Her next project is a book that will tell stories of famous scientists and their paths to success. (And maybe also a project with us!) We asked Natalia if she would be up for a quick chat and luckily she agreed!
Can you describe the place you grew up?
I grew up in Santiago, Chile. Being in the Capital already gives an advantage in terms of access to more culture and everything really. I love my city, I love how it is configured, I love my fellow "Santiaguinos", always so moody and lonely. A total contrast of what people might think of a Latin American country.
Was there an event in your life that catapulted you towards using feminist themes in your artwork?
The firsts feminist marches of my generation. I was starting with my project and I was living in downtown again and that just open my eyes and I wanted to do something, I wanted to support my people and the best way that I can do that is with my illustrations.
Who were your female role models?
As a kid, I would look up to Dana Scully from the X-Files because I wanted to become a Forensic Pathologist and she was so serious and professional. No need for a man or children. Now I adore former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. She was the first woman to become a president in Chile in 2006, just when I turn 18 to vote. I marched for her in the streets of Santiago and felt for the first time that need to express my vision of the world that I want and how important was my opinion among so many people. I felt heard.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Being at home with my mom just drawing in bed and watching cartoons.
What is a typical day/week like for you?
I get up super early to go to work. I'm a full-time translator at an Astrophysics Research Center, then I go home to be with my boyfriend, we talk and eat, and then I start drawing before going to bed. Not a fancy lifestyle, but good enough for me :)
What inspires you?
Regular people on the streets, on the subway. People alone minding their own business surrounded by more people. I feel that people's particularities come out in that scenario.
What advice would you give young women in the art world?
Stop overthinking what you do. When I finally started to post my work online, I was afraid and embarrassed, but then I realized that people actually like it and I was the only one in between my work and the world. I guess you only have to do it.
Where can we see more of your work?
You can visit my webpage: www.pavalesa.cl
Or any of my social media: