Jessica & Lorik
Jessica Sarai Larios and Lorik Krasniqi are mixed media artists based here in the Forest City. Jessica’s colourful and imaginative work may seem unassuming at first glance, but a closer examination reveals a deep entrenchment in rich allegory. Lorik’s work playfully translates emotion into form and vivid colour. Here, the couple discuss their history, and the influence of their cultural backgrounds on their creative drive, dream collaboration, and their respective conceptions of love.
MY NAME IS …….AND I AM A ……
LORIK. My name is Lorik Krasniqi and I am a rampant creative energy stuck within the confines of a human body.
JESSICA. My name is Jessica Sarai Larios and I am an artist.
HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?
L. We met rather randomly, a few days after my 19th birthday. An old friend of mine that I hadn't talked to in forever had messaged me about needing a model for a photo shoot. At first I was reluctant about it, but then she explained to me that it was for her friends art project and I couldn't say no to that so I agreed to go. When I met up with the group, the only person I truly saw was Jessica, and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. She had a certain glow to her, I had never seen anyone so wonderful in my life. The way she carried herself, the way she talked, the way she walked, the way she looked at me. After the photo shoot we all went to get coffee, checked out some vintage stores, and looked at art. The whole time I felt the need to talk to her, be by her side, and laugh with her. There was an obvious tension between her and I. The whole day felt like a lit match falling in slow motion towards a stream of gasoline, headed straight for a gas station. The match hit the ground by the end of the day, I knew our story wouldn't end there. I had to see her again.
J.I was in my last year of high school and I was in desperate need of a model for my final art project. My friend Dina said she knew this guy who she thought might be able to help me out, I later found out it was Lorik. She had only met him once in the seventh grade but still had him on Facebook, so she decided to message him for me. I was almost certain he would say no because it was such a reach but she updated me saying he had agreed. I remember she told me "his name is Lorik, and I think he’s into art" and that was the extent of my knowledge of him before we actually met. The day of the shoot came around and we decided to meet at Edgar and Joe’s. I remember walking in and immediately noticing him, I walked up to him, we introduced ourselves, and our eyes were locked for the rest of the day. I vividly remember the immediate connection I felt when our eyes first met, I felt like I was being reunited with someone I had known my whole life.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE EACH OTHER IN 5 WORDS?
L. Jessica is strong, ambitious, caring, inspiring, and philosophical.
J. Energetic, passionate, intuitive creative, kind, endlessly supportive.
CULTURAL BACKGROUND AND UPBRINGING CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN CREATIVE WORK. COULD YOU PLEASE SHARE SOME OF YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT MEMORIES THAT HAVE LED YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
L. Coming from a foreign country as refugees, my family didn't have the luxuries that most families had. My parents risked their lives coming to Canada to provide us with the opportunities we have now. Watching my parents soar through their struggles taught me that if I am alive and well, no obstacle should hinder my process. To settle for mediocrity would be the biggest disappointment.
J. One of my major influences is definitely being raised by immigrant parents with strong religious beliefs. Having to reconcile two different sets of cultural values and form one identity is a challenge, but it also makes for a unique experience that teaches you a lot about yourself and the world around you. It has urged me to incite conversations about inequality, racism, classism, sexism. It has also lead me to question why these barriers are imposed and decipher how to transcend them through my work and in my everyday life. My Latin American culture exposed me to a lot of beautiful music, bright colors and lively energy, as well as gifting me a deep appreciation for love and community. Another thing that has heavily influenced me is my early exposure to intense topics like life, death, spirituality, eternity, evil and good. I have been contemplating these topics since childhood and I think my extensive exploration of these subjects has made me who I am, which in turn has made my art what it is.
WHAT ARE YOUR RESPECTIVE DEFINITIONS OF LOVE?
L. Love is a super powerful thing, there are many different types of love but there is a love that is universal. This love is an agreement; a promise to give your all to a person, all of your loyalty, trust, care, and understanding. This type of love starts with yourself and expands outwards.
J. I don’t think anyone can define love because true love is boundless and a very subjective experience. My personal experience with love has taught me that true love comes with acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, care, trust and a genuine desire to uplift and encourage.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THESE DEFINITIONS OF “LOVE” DIFFER FROM CONVENTIONAL/TRADITIONAL CONCEPTS?
L. I feel these differ from the conventional/traditional concepts of love in the way that those concepts rarely start with loving and accepting yourself first.
J. I think traditionally, love has been mistaken with obsession or dependence. It’s important to learn to love yourself and care for yourself, which requires that you know yourself. It’s important to continue developing your identity, I think that's why challenge is important in a relationship. When your beliefs or character are challenged it forces you to learn about yourself and evaluate where you stand.
HOW DO YOU KEEP MOVING?(IN WORK, LIFE, LOVE)
L. I realized a long time ago that life is too fragile to spend doing boring things. I have made it my life goal to become an embodiment of art, so my life has become work in itself. A lot of my motivation comes from the love and support of my family and friends, but most of it comes from an intense desire to be greater than myself.
J. What keeps me moving right now is a combination of my desire for development, improvement and learning, and my determination to manifest my vision. Life and love have infinite potential, you can always be learning new things, having new experiences, bettering yourself, your relationships and your community. Remaining stagnant feels like the most unnatural way to live.
WHAT DOES BEAUTY MEAN TO YOU? WHAT CAPTIVATES YOUR ATTENTION?
L. Beauty to me means genuine expression, what captivates my attention is when a person is unapologetically themselves in anything they do.
J. I find genuine expression to be beautiful. It captivates my attention when people are unapologetic about who they are. I also find balance beautiful.
BOTH YOUR WORK CONSISTENTLY BUT VERY DIFFERENTLY PLAYS WITH FORM AND ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST PORTRAITURE. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT WAY OF EXPRESSION THAT CAPTIVATES YOUR ATTENTION.
L. Every drawing/painting created in that style is a universe within itself, it is the emotion of the moment it was painted-immortalized.
J. My style was not a premeditated decision, I do whatever feels most natural and true. I don't worry so much about maintaining a consistent visual style because I don't think that's what's important, instead, I like to focus on making sure I'm being true to my instincts and that I'm communicating honestly. Abstraction feels like the most appropriate form of expression for me since a lot of my artwork is inspired by emotions, ideas and thoughts, which are formless.
WHAT'S YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION TOGETHER?
L. Our dream collaboration would be to renovate and design a house.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL (EATS/GALLERIES/VENUES/ BARS, ETC)?
L. I am a hermit, I reside in my studio.
J. We’re not really locals anywhere, we mostly hangout in our studios or at our friends’ apartments.
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU WISH PEOPLE ASKED YOU MORE OFTEN?
L. “Can I buy your art?”
J. ‘’Can I fund you?’’