"I completely took over the kitchen table for years since I had no other space to work." Featured Artist: Cid Longoria

This week on the blog, we’re featuring metalsmith, jewelry maker, and mother of two Cid Longoria.  In Cid’s words, “ I was born and raised in a small agricultural town in East Texas with two brothers.  My father was a horticulturalist which eventually moved us to San Antonio, Texas.  My mother was a seamstress for Levi’s jeans and she taught me how to sew and to be obsessed with jeans.  I loved fashion and accessories and would often make my own clothes and jewelry.  In high school, I was a writer, a painter and a classical guitarist.  I wanted to get an art degree but my parents wanted something more ‘sensible.’”  She went on to obtain two B.A. and three M.A. degrees before finally coming back around to being an artist.  She’s now a metalsmith, jewelry maker and co-owner of Cantoria Jewelry, living a perfectly happy life with her blended family and four dogs. 

Could you explain what your creative practice is like?

I started drawing at a young age and could sit for hours if I was inspired by something.  The same is still true after 30 years.  I am always looking for inspiring things and sometimes they find me.  Shapes, colors, words and even people offer glimpses of things I want to translate into a piece of jewelry, or a painting.  Once I am inspired by something, I decide on a medium and then just go for it.  I often stay with the first design I create since I feel that is the most authentic to the feelings I am trying to convey.  I feel like my artistic formula is pretty simple.  Get inspired, work with materials you love (I’m a country girl, so leather and metal are huge components for me), create a design that moves people when they wear it.  Repeat. 

What are important motherhood contexts people should know about you?

Being a mother is everything to me.  I had Ovarian Cancer shortly after my son was born and was only given a narrow window to have my daughter before years of treatment and surgeries.  They were my reason for fighting and surviving.  Now, they are my biggest supporters.  I have learned that authenticity in parenting is a must.  I came out to them as gay when they were 8 and 10 and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  We are now a blended family filled with artists and musicians and gamers.  It’s a riot sometimes, well most of the time, but I love it. 

How has the practice of your creative life changed since motherhood?

I had a pretty unconventional upbringing so if I wanted to stay up late painting the stars that’s what I did.  Even when my children were babies, I continued to stay up late to write or draw and then sleep until noon.  I just used their natural schedule and it worked perfectly.  It wasn’t until they were in kindergarten through junior high that I was faced with challenges.  They needed a routine and schedule that I had never possessed so I was forced to shift to daylight hours ,which felt like hell at first.  I felt like I wasn’t creative, like I wasn’t myself and there was even a period of time I stopped making anything at all.  But like any true artist, I was dying to create.  I began making textile art and the new schedule just clicked.  I completely took over the kitchen table for years since I had no other space to work and they loved hanging out in there with me.  Now, my children are in college and I have all the time in the world to stay up late, I have a studio downstairs, I’m not on anyone’s schedule, but I have become so accustomed to the change and it has actually made me a more disciplined artist. 

What has been most challenging about sustaining a creative life in motherhood?

My two biggest challenges in sustaining creativity have been fatigue and time.  Children need time, lots of it and it forces you to prioritize what’s leftover.  Do I make that piece of jewelry or do I fold the laundry?  There have many times I told myself, “this is their time, there will be time for you later.” And I thought that was the right thing to do, but I wasn’t teaching them how to balance being a parent and also living out your own dreams.  My solution was to involve them in the creative process.  We went to a lot of museums, concerts, I taught them instruments and drawing and I found that in teaching them, it inspired me to create even more.  I also discovered that being overly tired makes my brain very foggy and I need rest and mental breaks to be able to have the clarity I want to create.  So, I’ve learned not to feel guilty if I couldn’t cut the crusts off their sandwiches.

What’s been the best surprise about having a creative life in motherhood?

One of the best surprises that came out of being a creative mother was my deep desire to share that with others.  I saw how my children were blossoming through creativity and the arts and they loved anything I would teach them or create with them.  Many years ago, I had an idea to open up a space where kids could come and learn about music and art where they otherwise may not have that chance.  I had already been a volunteer for an organization called Boysville that housed orphaned and abused children.  I started a summer program called Bloom that taught music, art and singing for free.  It was so amazing watching the kids come to life and learn and laugh through hurt they didn’t even know how to convey.  We can learn so much from the world around us, even through pain. Art speaks to us. 

What are the particular issues that come up as an artist in your field with children?

I used to feel judged a lot by the PTA type moms (no offense, I love the PTA!). But if  I was out all day shopping for beads, or up late at a show I would often be asked quite sarcastically, “do you even know where you kids are?” Truth be told, I did not always know.  I knew my mom had them somewhere and they were alive and that was good enough for me.  Most people have the misconception that to be a great artist you are all in and have time for nothing else but I am so devoted to Noah and Meadow and they know it. They are the ones that helped me push through the guilt and stay true to myself. 

What’s been the your most important mantra for having a creative life as a mother?

My partner and I have a life and business mantra, and it’s “Wear Kindness.”  We believe that we are all responsible for being kind and compassionate to one another.  Art is an expression, a feeling, a thought, something emotive.  For our particular art, we want to put out into the universe all things good and kind.  Acts of kindness are so inspiring to me and I strive every day to practice this in my life in creative ways.  Every piece of jewelry we make has had our hand on it and we always bless our pieces with life and kindness that are far reaching.  It’s a mantra I hope is carried out for generations in my family. 

Which artist-mothers inspire you?

I love Sarah Sze and her sculptures.  It’s like a brain explosion of genius and also reminds me of my daughter’s work.  I love her installations and the color and patterns.  Rania Matar is another person I’m inspired by.  She is a fantastic photographer who tells these heartfelt stories through pictures. People are so diverse and their lives so colorful and complex.  Faces carry all of that and I love looking at her work and imaging the story behind a person.   And of course, Darcy Miro, incredible metalsmith and jewelry maker.  She can make a piece of scrap metal look like a dainty butterfly and I find that freakishly incredible.  Probably the greatest artwork of all that inspires me belongs to mother nature.  Sunsets and mountains and rain and the ocean are the greatest works of grandeur to me and I’m constantly inspired by them and trying to pay homage to them.  I want to be like Gandalf the Grey when he is standing on the mountain top and commanding the wind!  That’s the feeling I want my art to have. 

You can follow Cid and learn more about her work here:

etsy.com/shop/cantoriajewelry

facebook.com/CantoriaJewelry

Instagram@cantoriajewelry

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