Corinne Varón Green
Corinne Varón immigrated to the United States from Peru in 1972 at age 17 in search of the freedom of expression she imagined she would find in the land of peace, love and rock and roll. With the brutal political instability and growing anti-Semitism in Peru, her parents encouraged her to pursue her studies in the US.
On a cold day in February, she landed in Boston, where her older brother had been living and had arranged for her to attend intensive English classes at Regis College. In her off time, Varón supplemented her lessons by studying the lyrics of her favorite musicians: Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Carole King and James Taylor. She communicated with her new friends through drawing.
In the years that followed, Varón attended Brandeis University and enrolled in fine arts and art history courses. As a child, Varón had the habit of doodling and drawing the various landscapes she encountered in her family’s travels across Peru. In Boston, at such a distance from her home, and navigating life in a new language, Varón found solace in practicing art. Through it, she discovered and developed her unique visual language with which to express herself in an otherwise unfamiliar environment.
Throughout college, Varón continued to explore her life through painting and sculpture. As the political climate changed, the social unrest and political movements unfolding around her inspired her to expand her medium. She took on documentary photography to capture the stories she saw unfolding around her. She joined Cesar Chavez and his movement to demand fair pay for farmers and migrant workers. She also helped organize demonstrations to increase financial aid access to low-income students.
After graduating, Varón moved into her first studio, an abandoned pharmacy space in Cambridge, MA. This converted storefront– and the community of artists that lived in the building – became her home for the next 27 years. In order to pay for art supplies, Varón began substitute teaching for the Boston Public School system, which, due to a huge influx of Central American students, found itself in need of Spanish speaking professionals. This experience developed into a parallel career that lasted 38 years.
In the classroom, Varón uncovered a talent for education and a passion for helping students uncover their own creativity. Varón designed her curriculum to specifically engage various learning styles through project-based learning methodologies. Ten years into her teaching career, Varón was recruited to join the Cambridge Public Schools where she worked as a bilingual teacher, a staff developer, and a curriculum coordinator until she retired in 2013, nearly forty years after her first job in front of a classroom.
During the many years of her teaching career, Varón continued to exhibit her painting, photography and fabric arts extensively in the US and abroad. Additionally, in that time, Varón pursued her own education, receiving her Master’s degree from Lesley University and her Doctorate from Harvard University. True to her history as an artist and teacher, Varón’s doctoral thesis fit squarely at the intersection of art and education by analyzing monolingual and bilingual children’s cognitive development through their drawings.
Even as life filled up with other endeavors and responsibilities, as life tends to do, Varón kept painting. Often, life’s challenges and milestones provided Varón with inspiration and restored her dedication to art. For example, in 1986, when Varón had her daughter Lily Anna and became a single mother, a renewed sense of purpose and a new subject matter awoke in her: the relationship of mother and child. Varon continually explores and celebrates this theme in her painting. The same occurred when she met her husband Richard, a Marblehead native. Varón’s work took on themes of love, passion, and partnership.
What Varón has accomplished since 2013, with her recent works VISTAS: Landscapes Re-Imagined, is allowing the viewer to experience familiar settings with new eyes. These paintings are scenes refracted through the prism of Varon's mind. The incredible vibrancy of the colors capture ones attention, the sinuous lines draws one in, and the imaginative geometric shapes remind us that even the smallest details in the universe that surrounds us are deserving of reverie.
In her retirement from teaching, Varón has happily transitioned to a full-time artist. She now spends half the year in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and half the year in Boston. She continues to participate in solo and group-shows.
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