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Freda Girl

FREDA Girl: Calida Rowles

Meet LA FREDA girl, Calida Rawles, interdisciplinary artist, writer, sculptor, and mother who creates powerful work that explores race and gender. Creative in every sense, Calida is the author-illustrator of the 2014 children’s book, Same Difference, which empowers girls to celebrate their differences. We caught up with Calida at her LA studio to talk about pursuing her dreams, motherhood, and balancing the two.

How did you get started in your career? Are you doing what you always imagined you’d be doing?

Painting has been my passion since high school, so continuing my studies in college and graduate school was a natural progression. It was the support of my family and friends that led me to take that great leap of faith to pursue art as a career.

I am doing what I imagined, but in a more "realistic form." In the girlhood fantasy of my "life as a painter," I was more carefree, with a limo driver and a studio that was exactly like the loft in the movie, "Flashdance".

What has been one of the best moments of your career so far? Any regrets?

That's a hard one because I still feel like I am in the beginning, but I would say that the best moments are when I complete a piece of art that "pushed" me further than the last. That's when I feel a sense of accomplishment that is so very rewarding.  Or maybe the best moment comes in knowing my daughters are watching me going after my dreams. They witness the amount of time, hard work and even stress that comes with striving to accomplish a goal.

I regret the times when I doubted myself and my abilities. Those moments happen for everyone, I know, but it feels like wasted time.

How have you managed balancing caring for a family and working?

I don't know if you ever fully "balance" it all. I try to keep my priorities in order, with my family's well-being and children's development at the top. But I believe my children seeing me "do me" helps them in the long run. It's certainly not easy and sometimes, I drop a ball, or two, but I'm happy and I can only wish that my daughters can find that in their lives.


Tell us a little bit about what’s important to you?

Overall, I am an optimistic person, so I try to find some benefit or lesson from even the worst predicaments. I'm a list maker and crossing tasks off throughout the day gives me a little buzz. It's my motivation to keep going.

What's important? Family and being a good friend. I have learned that having "real" friends, those that are there during the good and bad times, are so valuable. They are the people that call you just to check in and see how you're doing, not because they want something from you.  Basically, they show up even when it's inconvenient for them because they love you. I am happy to have many people like this in my life and I hope they can say I've been there for them in the same way.

Where and how do you find inspiration for your work?

My latest work depicts the beauty, angst and pressure of motherhood, juxtaposed with the duality of guilt and joy that comes along with it. So, I guess you can say that my personal life is my inspiration right now.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I've ever received is, "Don't put a glass ceiling over yourself." But I live by my mantra, "Do all things with love"

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