Creative Connected Calgary Javier Vilalta | Photo: SLIVER Photography Inc January 22, 2019 Javier Vilalta Month of the Artist celebrates the valuable contributions artists make to Alberta Javier Vilalta Javier Vilalta is a member of the award-winning Canadian visual performance ensemble 8ROJO. The group is known for its unique style of creating interdisciplinary performances for intimate spaces that combine imaginative artistry and innovation. Follow them on Facebook at @8ROJO and on Instagram at @visualimaginarium. What city ward do you live in? Ward 2, at the moment. I have enjoyed living all over the city for the 20 years I’ve been in Calgary. How do you describe yourself as an artist? I take an interdisciplinary approach to performance, which uses visuals as the main tool for creation and communication. From my work, audiences can expect living tableaus and symbols in motion to interpret the meaning behind each creation. As a Mexican artist living in Calgary, most of my artistic creations are inspired by non-verbal interactions, rituals, and movement to reach those interested in unconventional approaches to performance. This has also allowed the members of my group, 8ROJO, to reach audiences all over the world, and without any language barrier. What does living a creative life mean to you? I am a firm believer that creative living is essential for personal growth, and to develop strong and healthy communities. There is nothing more inspiring to me than witnessing others expressing themselves using their own artistry and imagination. It is why the arts must be considered a pillar of every society. They carry our heritage and identity. The arts shape our environment. What do you love about Calgary and what is one place you go to find inspiration in Calgary? I’m in love with this city, it is one of my favourite places in the world. I find its people, its culture, the welcoming attitude, and its constant growth as uniquely Canadian. I find inspiration wherever I see transformation within the community through the arts. Calgarians allow themselves to be surprised and are eager to discover new ideas. It is a very exciting place to be as an artist. If you could do one thing this year to make Calgary a better place to live, what would it be? I would encourage all residents to try a new experience within the city. There are places, initiatives, and new artistic offers worth exploring, all waiting to find their audience. We owe it to each other to take a proactive approach and support what is new and exciting in Calgary. Go outside your comfort zone and be surprised with how much you didn’t know Calgary had to offer. What piece of advice would you give to an emerging artist? Spend time to find and develop what is special about you and your work. Allow us to discover an artistic approach that can’t be found anywhere else. Don’t compromise your art to fit in, your uniqueness will lead your path. What are you currently working on? With my performance ensemble, 8ROJO, we will continue to present two of our visual creations The Lost Hours and After in Canada and in different cities around the world. We will also be working on creating a new piece that explores gender identity within a background of legends and mythology. About Alberta’s Month of the Artist January is the Month of the Artist in Alberta, an annual celebration of artists and the value they bring to the province, both socially and economically. Dedicated by the Government of Alberta, the Month of the Artist is a way to say thank you for making the province a better place to live. Calgary Arts Development is pleased to share the stories of artists who choose to live and work in Calgary. Have a story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.