Maria, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
My first memory of wanting to capture moments in a photograph was at the end of 6th grade, I must’ve been 12 at that time. I remember thinking about how I never wanted to forget what my friends looked like, so I bought a disposable camera and took it to school on the last day. I never knew how drastic life would change the upcoming years and these photos were a more tangible form to keep a visual timeline of my life and the people in it.
I was lucky enough to experience shooting a 35mm DSLR camera during my senior year in high school, which expanded my love for photography even further. I guess you can say that photography was my first true love in art.
When I was 21 I stumbled upon painting when I got my first tattoo. The girl who tattooed me, Lisa Bee, recommended I try painting given that the design I made for my tattoo was not terrible. I followed her advice and was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I was a natural. I immediately fell in love with it. I’ve been painting on and off ever since, including 4 years as a production painter. Painting has become one of the biggest outlets of my depression. Brushing on paint onto a canvas is so therapeutic, it has healing powers I swear. I love painting for me. I’ve done a few commission pieces and they never provide the same comfort or healing that the things I choose to paint bring. Painting is truly special to me. It brings me euphoria and a sense of belonging; something that nothing else brings. I don’t do it enough and every time I do it, I’m reminded why I do it. My paintings and I become one. They know me and I know them. No words, just paint, feelings and pain. It’s so simple, yet so complex.
My love of photography has grown to a point where I love being both behind and in front of the camera. I’ve always fantasized about creating a series of self-portraits where I can tell a story and portray a certain feeling through my own eyes; the way I view myself. It has taken a long time, but I feel like all of these ideas will soon come to life.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
As you may have figured, I use my art as a form of self-expression. My art is extremely personal. Most of the time I don’t know the meaning of anything I create until months, sometimes years, later. This becomes more noticeable with my paintings. I often have the urge to paint a certain portrait or create a collage and I start working on it right away.
Months later, I find myself looking back at it and realizing “Oh wow, I remember what I was going through when I painted that.” Then I find all these elements in the paintings that correlate to those feelings. My creations are self-analysis in a way. I create to heal all these broken parts within myself, that often resurface in this whole process. Music, nature, poetry, other artists such as painters, writers, and photographers are a big source of my inspiration. More prevalent than anything, my culture is the main inspiration for my art. I truly hold the day of the dead closely to my heart because it has helped me cope with grief when I’ve needed the most.
Also, on a recent trip to Sequoia and Yosemite, I was able to finally photograph nature. I had been wanting to do that for a while and since I’ve been finding so much comfort in Mother Earth, this was the perfect opportunity to bring these two together. Being in the middle of nature is such a humbling experience. Anywhere I looked, I saw life happening without care and I saw myself as this tiny little earthling trying to find my place here on earth. It’s mind-blowing how much beauty and life there is on planet Earth, but we rarely take notice because we’re always in a rush. This trip for me was a huge reminder to slow down. Which is probably the hardest thing for me to do since I’m a single mom with a full-time job. My free time is extremely limited and sometimes I fill my schedule with too many things, which lead me to exhaustion these past few months. Since then I’ve been taking better care of myself while continuing to work. I’m currently working on self-control, mental stability and on building healthy relationships with those I love. It has been a real struggle but I’m happy to see where my life is taking me.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
Art in all its forms has become more accessible thanks to technology and social media. Expression through art is therapeutic and its accessibility to the world is extremely important.
As an immigrant myself, I never had access to art supplies like most others in my school did. Art in general, held no priority growing up but finding art helped save me. Once I learned the true power of art and what it can do to one’s personal, mental and spiritual health, I knew I had to share with others. I feel like more artists have become aware of this and feel a need to create for their own sake. Which to me is the best way to create anything as I feel that those feelings transcend through the artist’s medium.
The role of an artist varies from each artist. As for me, I’m so grateful to have art to express my feelings. I’m not sure everyone out there has that, but I do and I am truly thankful for that.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I am not exhibiting any art pieces at the moment. This past April I had my first solo art show titled “Life’s Encounters” at the Brewery Artwalk, hosted by my amazing friend Rachel. I showcased most of my paintings and a few photographs. I also sold my first original abstract painting a few weeks after the show. It was such a mind-blowing moment for me since I don’t usually advertise my work for sell.
I do have plans to start selling prints and merchandise in the near future. I’m also in the works of getting a camera and will be up for hire, so stay tuned.
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