Since 2013, Venezuela has endured one of the worst economic depressions in global history. What began as an economic contraction under President Chavez has morphed into an ongoing deterioration of Venezuela's entire social structure, their health system just the latest in a long list of casualties from falling oil prices and gross mismanagement at the federal scale. We sat down with a tremendously talented artist, Ana Lozada, who has had to watch as her homeland falls to ruin and the work she is doing to bring attention to the crisis.
FatChix: Hi Ana. Please tell our readers where you live and where you are from originally. Ana: I currently live in Hoboken, New Jersey. I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela. FatChix: You're working on a beautiful project to help open people's minds about the crisis in Venezuela. Can you tell our audience a little more about the piece and its importance as a lesson for both your home country, and your adopted country here? What is the synopsis, if you will, of the project? Ana: I am writing a graphic novel called Failed State. The project asks, "How does Venezuela, a country with vast amounts of natural resources, end up in ruin? What does it feel like to watch it decay from the inside?" In Failed State, Daya is a Venezuelan girl from an upper-middle class family. She yearns to impact her society as she has seen the worst effects of income inequality on her best friend from childhood, Cristobal. While they both experienced ways in which they could enact change in their surroundings through their art, Daya stopped believing her drawings would change people's minds. As she commits to enacting change in the field of economics, Cristobal challenges her to be true to herself by inspiring people with his political cartoons. Trying to prove each other wrong in the face on an increasingly hostile political climate, Daya is forced to see the errors in Cristobal's thinking as well as her own. Through this personalized narrative, Failed State displays Venezuela's crisis.
FatChix: This is an incredible endeavor. Why do you think this would sway people's minds or attract attention in a new way when so much has already been reported about the crisis? Ana: Because it is observed from the personal perspective of the main character, and is based on my own real experiences. News-media often lacks real perspective because they are reporting on something from the outside. This project hopes to deliver something impactful that others can related to and gain a better understanding of both the world and society through. It also hopes to show the ways in which people's skills, especially those skills or parts of ourselves that are under-appreciated, have tremendous value.
FatChix: Well, the project has certainly opened our eyes to the crisis. We have been following the changes in Venezuela like much of the world, but this is the first time we were kind of forced to recognize the horrors and hardships that Venezuelans are experiencing. Why do you think this hits home better than traditional storytelling for people? What is unique about your way of telling the story? Ana: For this project in particular, I think what is most unique is the way in which information is being communicated to the audience. My main character and author does explain her circumstances, but the quirks I've created in the way pages flow tend to say a lot more about the story and the character's emotions. FatChix: Can you elaborate on that a little bit? Ana: Yes. So, for example, a scratched out name or face hints at how the Author has conflicted feelings about a person, or an unfinished journal entry communicates a lack of will to keep going.
FatChix: Got it. Was there specific someone or someone's that influenced your style? Ana: Allison Bechdel, Marjane Satrape, and many mentors influenced my style. Reading the journal of one of my mentors has influenced the format the most, though I'm not sure am comfortable saying which one allowed me to do this. I found myself feeling like many of the entries [in the journal] were dishonest as I read them. There was a lot of writing about what was going well or what was fun at the time until a complete shift in tone revealed an intense emotional struggle that had been going on even before the journal had been written. It is this sort of self-deceit that I think journals tend to be made up of, and in Daya's case, it portrays her denial perfectly. FatChix: What is the meaning of the title of your story? Ana: Failed State refers to a failed "state of mind", specifically Daya's, as well as the external failure that is Venezuela today.
FatChix: Why is it important for you to tell this story now? What is your hope for it's reception? Ana: It was important for me to create something that would make people think and care about Venezuela's issues. Stories are better at building empathy than traditional news-media. FatChix: Agreed. There's always so much pain in the world these days that it really becomes like background noise. Who do you think would pick up Failed State? Or who is your target audience for this project? Ana: My target audience is globally-conscious Americans and Venezuelans in general. Though I hope this story has the potential to reach beyond those initially defined subsets.
FatChix: We definitely believe it will. We are so happy to have you here producing incredible and personal work like this. What are some of your favorite places to "art" in the city? Ana: I'm particularly fond of drawing at the city's many squares and public areas. It's not the kind of thing many cities offer, so that feels pretty valuable. They tend to be great for drawing architecture and people. FatChix: You truly find value in some of the most unappreciated things. That's a beautiful quality to have and probably one of the things that sets you apart as an artist and a human being. Okay. LAST QUESTION for our FatChix fam out there. Where are your favorite places to eat in NYC? Ana: My favorite Venezuelan restaurant is El Cocotero in Chelsea because they have a lot of more traditional food than just arepas. Generally speaking, it's a great place to go when I want to introduce friends to that bit of my culture. I also love Bodhi Kosher, a vegan dimsum restaurant in Chinatown and Champ's Diner in Brooklyn. FatChix: Well! We are all now sufficiently inspired, moved, and hungry! We cannot wait to see this project's publication in the future and thank you so much, Ana, for sitting down with us! If you love Ana as much as we do, you'll be happy to know that we're doing a video interview with her as well! Stay tuned for more funky stuff with this gorgeous artist and all-around magical chick. Fat Love,FatChix