Daniel Arzola is a queer Venezuelan immigrant Artivist. Alturi’s Joel Klausler met Daniel at Twin Cities Pride and was captivated by his art. Their conversation evolved into a thematic expression of Daniel’s impact on communities and cultures worldwide.
I believe art can be the artist’s response to the reality and time surrounding us. I think my work emerged as a voice as I grew up in a society where I was silenced and attacked since I was just a child. My work speaks of the value of the dignity of each person because the extraordinarily homophobic society in Venezuela systematically attacked my dignity. But not only has violence been the driving force for my work, the search for beauty too. The art of others was a refuge for me in very lonely moments. People like Federico García Lorca, Reinaldo Arenas, Chavela Vargas, Keith Haring, Tori Amos. They showed me the beauty after the darkness. I think it is essential to find the beauty that hides in our own stories.
How did leaving Venezuela affect my creative freedom? Well, first of all, it freed me as a human being. The first time I could walk down the street hand in hand with a lover was outside my country, and the first time I was able to say goodbye with a kiss instead of a handshake because visibility comes at a price that can cost you your life in my country. I think that when the artist changes, the art also transforms.
I know my intention when creating art, but I don’t know what emotion the person receives. My work has connected me with people worldwide because that is the power of art. Art brings us closer as people, and art is capable of strengthening communities because it makes us feel admiration for others; it reminds us that we can be empathic. In almost a decade of artistic work, I can say that I have met people who feel empowered by my work, but I also empower myself with the work of others. It’s like a cycle; it’s the cycle of inspiration.
I believe that an artivist is an artist capable of creating symbols that allow us to create a community that will enable us to transmit a message that tells about the time in which we live. Still, the message has to be able to transcend and be accessible to new generations because art can transcend time. I define Artivism as intervening in the dynamics that art uses to communicate to transmit a message that permeates the culture.
My work is my testimony. It is the story of a queer Venezuelan person in times of massive migration of Venezuelans due to the dictatorship; it is the story of an immigrant artist. My work is personal because the personal is political when your civil rights and dignity are at stake.
My work will be my testament when I am not here. It is the work of someone who believes that art is a large part of human knowledge and its ability to tell stories.
If you want to support my work, you can buy my work. You can hire my services to carry out a campaign on human rights. You can recommend a job where my skills can be helpful, and you can support my Patreon https://www.patreon.com/danielarzola. I’m @Arzola_D on Instagram and Twitter.
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