Artist Statement

Using video, installation and photography Bella’s work explores her personal experience with American history and popular culture to explore the intersection of immigration, family, and gender identity. Her practice is rooted in the resourceful legacy of immigrant hustlers, which has compelled her to not only collect but also corrupt and alter found objects and images to amplify the power dynamics inherent within it. By pulling from her personal archive of video footage, thrifted souvenirs, and San Marcos blankets; she cuts and reconfigures them to create physical gaps where new meanings can be interpreted – creating spaces where hybrid identities exist and thrive. Bella creates a new iconography that embodies her experience as a first-generation Guatemalan-American woman.

More About Bella Maria Varela

Bella Maria Varela is a third-year graduate student pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Arizona School of Art. Bella grew up in Columbia Heights, Washington D.C and is a proud DCPS alumni. Bella  attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she received her Bachelors in the Arts in 2015.

Bella lived in Washington D.C and served as a Museum Assistant at the Phillips Collection, Assistant Manager at the Renwick Gallery Store and Arts Program Coordinator with All Our Kids DC. While at the University of Arizona Bella has served as arts facilitator with the QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color); and is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Last spring Bella won first place at the 5 Minute Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Tucson for her work titled, Triathlon. Inspired by her family’s competitive sporting spirit, Triathlon tracks the rhythms and terrains of American immigration and confronts the absurd constructs of US patriotism and exceptionalism. In November 2019, Bella exhibited at CUNSTHAUS in Tampa, FL about her experience in Cape Cod. Bella will be graduating with her MFA and exhibiting her thesis work, Becky the Explorer, this coming April.

Keep up with Bella Maria Varela

Watch the Viritual Opening of Triathlon