LEARN: Alba Cota: Being Brave Is The Only Choice
Updated: Feb 16
Creative communication is introduced to us at a young age, however very few people are allowed to take those skills and build a life around it. The path we then choose to lead gives us the option whether or not to use it to help guide us with the mind and heart. If we lead with our true being, passion will just flow naturally. Being creative can simply be to adhere to your own interests and finding that inner voice that is more than just language. I see this type of direction in someone like Alba. She represents the kind of student that isn't afraid to communicate through the tools given to her. She is brave, and can admit that her affection for art and fashion has led her to discover new things about the world, and herself. She is determined, and isn't afraid to describe her emotions through her creativity. While being brave, she is also open—so much so that it is enough to know that she can't stop just because something might get too hard. Her reflection on the artist Vincent Van Gogh made me think about the notion that though some artists are hurting inside, they really do want others to feel joy. If you pay attention and view the world through the eyes of an artist, it might help to give you some insight about your own individuality, as told only through you. She describes her work as eccentric, strange, uncommon, unique, diverse, and creepy—maybe you will see these things too, maybe you won't. That is the beauty of art.
In education, if we take a more human and social approach to figuring out how to allow each other to thrive in any form of communication, the dynamic relationships that can stem from it can be positive for everyone.
"The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right." - Vincent Van Gogh
Tell me a little about yourself and what you are studying in school.
I was born in Amarillo, Texas, but had the pleasure of having Mexican parents, which gave me the opportunity of growing up in Mexico. My mom is a designer and my dad an architect, so I can say art has been a significant part of my life since day one and I have been living with the best art teachers I have ever met. Since I was nine years old, I decided I wanted to study fashion. I liked sewing, painting, and photography, but what I liked the most was the industry as a whole and the excitement of being a part of it. At that same age, I started looking for colleges and telling everyone I was moving to New York in a few years, and in that moment my plan began. I grew up in a small city in the northern part of Mexico, which made the whole process of my dreams more difficult, but never impossible. I wanted to experience my dream, meet people from everywhere, be independent, and have a life out of my comfort zone. When the moment came to study college somewhere else, I applied to ten colleges and luckily got accepted to all of them. However, I chose Chicago because I felt something towards it, something in my heart told me it was right for me and my future. In the present, I am studying with a major in fashion studies, a concentration in merchandising and a minor in fine arts. Through immersing myself in studying these subjects, I was reassured that fashion and art are the two loves of my life. I feel both of them are really exciting and amazing, but as a whole especially, they are an absolute masterpiece. This year taught me to enjoy life in a more detailed, loving, and artistic way. I was painting 24/7 during quarantine, which gave me the time to try different techniques and different materials. I started experimenting with coffee, wine, tea bags, glass, mirrors; I was painting everywhere!
I have a great belief that art transforms all that chaos in our own world and lives into beauty. If everyone saw the world as an artist, we would see a world with less chaos and more creation.
You mentioned to me that art has been something that has saved you, and allowed you to see the world in a different way. Can you speak to this a little more as well as your intention for your educational path?
For art, I can tell you it has changed my life in ways I never expected. I will define this change as ¨chaos and creation¨, a phrase I listened from Franca Sozzani in her documentary. The whole world is a mess. Pandemics are a reality, climate change gets worse by the day, we lose people we love, the economy goes down, our health suffers, not everyone believes in diversity and inclusion, a mental problem arises, people are racist, and too many more. There are countless problems coming out every day. However, I have a great belief that art transforms all that chaos in our own world and lives into beauty. Numerous artists have made masterpieces inspired by and stemming from suffering. Vincent Van Gogh painted his more important pieces after cutting off his ear and going through depression. This creation comes because artists seeing the small details: a painting inspired by heartbreak, a sculpture stemming from their own defects, a portrait of the people they love and an axis point in a city’s landscape. If everyone saw the world as an artist, we would see a world with less chaos and more creation. I can say art has saved me. It has given me the faith I needed to get through my journey of life and all the obstacles that came with it. It has given me a reason to look differently at my own defects and problems; and it has shown me the future is a little brighter than it seems and that as long as I see the world as an artist, I can create from my chaos.
Describe some of your art work/fashion pieces and how you come to the process of creation.
I describe my work as eccentric, strange, uncommon, unique, diverse, and creepy. I like to think about myself as an inventor and that is one of the things I love the most about art and fashion too, the fact that I can create something out of this world and something that has only lived in my mind. Answering the question, I get inspired to do whatever feels right at the moment. I let my thoughts flow and just follow my intuition, that is my favorite way to show my own style and who I really am. Also, one of my rules when making art is to show an emotion or feeling through it, getting the inspiration from my daily life and experiences. In fashion, I am a big fan of Franca Sozzani and Alexander McQueen, both of them create fashion through architecture, art, design, and eccentricity. Franca was the editor in chief of Vogue Italy and she used fashion editorials as a way to communicate current social and real-world problems. Alexander revolutionized the fashion industry through making his designs as extra as possible and giving something out of this world, literally. Those are the type of people who create an impact in the industry, and I want to have the pleasure of been like them one day, by mixing my knowledge in art and fashion, to create masterpieces on both fields. Fashion should be art we can wear, and provoke something to the viewer and customer.
I want to meet people from everywhere, adapt myself to different cultures and traditions, help people in need, appreciate the moon from different countries, fall in love, dance at night, see views that will take my breath away.
What can you believe in that is much greater than anything you can control right now?
My grandma used to see a face in the texture of a peanut, a treasure in small things, flowers when looking out of the car window, a pattern in a rock, but mostly, she used to believe in me. I always thought she saw the world differently from everyone else, like if there was art in even the simplest of things of our daily life. Our whole family is really creative in their own way, so we have definitely inherited that from her. Even if my grandma didn’t like to paint or draw, she saw the world as an artist and that is one of the greatest gifts of life. I like to remember that thought and mindset every day of my life and get inspired from it: the beauty of ¨seeing the world as an artist¨. For the other question, I feel I am in control of working hard and giving my best effort to be in the place I want to be. I believe in the phrase, ¨If you don’t like where you are, change it¨, and I apply it every time I don’t feel in the right place or situation. The best way to go through a pandemic is finding something you love, a purpose to wake up every morning, and seeing the positive side of the situation. It might be hard to stay inside, but we can grow from experiences too and commit to beautiful things within the near future.
What is in your future?
I want a very unusual life. I want to graduate from college, volunteer and travel for a year, and then start my master degree in fine arts in a good college in Europe. After I finish my master, I want to get a job I like and start at the bottom, working my way up to the top. I want to live in different places and be the best version I can be of myself. My dream is to become a creative director for a prestigious and reputable fashion brand, having my own business at the same time. However, I believe experiences are the best part in the journey of making our dream come true. I want to meet people from everywhere, adapt myself to different cultures and traditions, help people in need, appreciate the moon from different countries, fall in love, dance at night, see views that will take my breath away, work with professionals from different fields, etc. because yes, I want my dreams to come true, but I want the path to be as exciting and amazing as if they were already a reality.
Any advice to other artists or students?
I would say the best advice ever will be to follow your dreams. Don’t wait, because life is happening right now, and be brave, because life will always be a risk worth taking. Do whatever your heart guides you to do and follow your intuition, because everyone will always have an opinion, but yours is the final decision and absolutely nothing is impossible. People used to tell me how expensive it would be studying in a big city, that fashion might not be the most stable career, how dangerous it was to go on my own, yet I achieved all of it. I am here and I will tell you, not giving up on myself, is the best decision I had ever made. I can´t imagine my life being different from where I am now, and the person I have become. Lastly but not least, I will tell you about an artist. Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting in his whole lifetime. One year after his death, one of his paintings was the most expensive painting in the world. So, there you have it. It doesn’t matter where you are right now; it matters where you want to be and how hard you will work towards it. Living as an artist or designer might be a difficult path to succeed, but as long as you are doing what you love and growing your knowledge, you are already successful.
You can see more of Alba's art and fashion on her social channel @amcvart