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Not For A Million Bucks: an interview with artist Mayra Zamora.

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with William Henneberger

It is becoming more and more rare these days that you meet someone whom you believe when they say they would turn down an enormous amount of money on principle. I don’t know Mayra Zamora very well, but for some reason, when she said that in this interview, I believed her. In my limited opinion regarding art, I think that may be what it means to be a true artist… just don’t tell that to Norman Rockwell.

If you like what you see or what Mayra has to say follow her on Instagram @MiraMayraArt. Also, be sure to come out and support the opening of her show Rosas Para Mi Corazon at Janet F. Harte Public Library in Flour Bluff, Saturday, March 10th from 3-6pm, or stop by anytime throughout March to see her heartfelt and enjoyable works.

What are some of the pros and cons of being an artist in a smaller market like Corpus Christi?

I love Corpus and its art scene. Since I moved to Corpitos in 2006, I instantly enthralled myself into the art community. I joined K Space Contemporary in the Fall of 2007 and they have become my art family. They have pushed me to be better and have always encouraged my artistic endeavors and out of the box ideas. Because Corpus is small and I am a free-lance artist, it allows me to work as an educator for the Art Museum of South Texas, the Art Center of Corpus Christi, Garcia Arts & Education Center; and a curator for the La Retama Central Library and the Tejano Civil Rights Museum. The saying “starving artist” stems from a place of truth. Though I work all over the place, I do not have a permanent full-time job nor benefits, so sometimes certain months can be stressful. But today’s art scene is continuously thriving and I am elated to be a part of it for over ten years. Corpus Christi is ever-evolving and I can visualize a bright and prosperous community, in which artists will be respected and seen as equals to any other profession.

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Which is your favorite piece that you will be showing at the upcoming exhibit?

This is always a difficult question for artists because each piece is special & significant. However, the piece that is most emotional to me is titled “Para mis Abuelos.” Before I started this piece, I had painted two hearts involving internal flames. This made me think of my experience with my apartment catching fire this past summer. I was in the apartment when the fire started and saw it from beginning to end, all because of a cigarette that wasn’t properly put out. Long story short, when I went inside to retrieve my belongings, all the debris and flames had missed major works. It looked like a magical force field protected my works and private collection. This piece is to honor my abuelos who were protecting me on that traumatic day.

You have said that some of your inspiration comes from having a kaleidoscope as a child, what do you think you would be doing today if you had spent all that time with a Slinky instead?

I would be doing the exact same thing! As a kid, I found the slinky fascinating, the way it moved and stretched. I would spend a lot of time in Mexico and would have to find ways to entertain myself. I probably still have my slinky in my toy chest back home. I am one of the few souls that know I was put on this planet to create.

What would you say if Trump offered you a million dollars to paint a mural on part of his Wall?

I don’t want to entertain this question because I believe this is only giving power to someone I do not believe in. I am a daughter of Mexican immigrants and proud to be 1st generation American. My parents immigrated to this country for my sister and me to follow our dreams. I do not need his money to be somebody because I already am somebody. SI SE PUEDE!!!! (emoji fist)

 

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If you could sell a piece to any celebrity, who would you like it to be?

Cheech Marin because his exhibition “Menudo: Chicano Art from the Cheech Marin Collection” in 2009 at the Art Museum of South Texas changed my life. My late professor Bruno Andrade at TAMUCC encouraged our painting class to attend his artist talk at the museum. Once I stepped inside I was instantly captivated with all the works and felt an instant cultural & personal connection. I went home and began googling all of the artists in his collection because I finally found a place in the art world where I felt I truly belonged and could be myself, a Chicana. A place where I can blend my love for my Mexican heritage and love for my modern American artists. It would be a great honor to be a part of his immense private collection. I also would love to sell a piece to Gina Rodriguez, from the CW’s Jane the Virgin. I admire and respect how openly vocal she is for the Latino community and calling out Hollywood on the continuation of exclusion of Latino actors. I feel I am very much like her but a voice for the Latino arts community in Corpus Christi.

What is a product or brand that you would like to endorse or represent with your art? What is one that you would never endorse?

One of my dreams is to collaborate with Sharpie. I would love to represent the brand because of my personal connection with the products. My dad always had white, red, black, green, & yellow oil based & fine point Sharpies. He would bring them home from work and decorate his hard helmet & lunch boxes. Naturally always being an artistic child, I would use them. As an adult artist, I have continued to use Sharpies for my creations. My most current solo exhibition is primarily contrived using the Sharpie paint marker. Art has no boundaries, so anything is possible! I would welcome any new endorsement and make a decision based on my intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, I will not take on a job opportunity big or small.

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How do you think the digitization of every flat surface will change the way we view art?

On one hand, artists are used for marketing, therefore, we see an immense use of billboards and graphics to sell the consumer a product because most of us are receptive to visuals. So in that sense, I do not consider this “art”, but “art” is heavily involved in the creation of the product, the creation of ads, and so on.   However, most people do not realize how much art and artist have shaped your lives. On the other hand, fine artists are using technology to push our perception of what is art. Art nowadays doesn’t have to be painted on a canvas or paper. I have seen very unique art in Miami Art Basel, where lots of artists were pushing the boundaries of art using the power of technology. However, I will forever be a lover of mural & public art and believe all walls & surfaces should be painted. Art has the power to bring so much joy and happiness to the world, so why don’t we? Tu Sabes?! I have such vision for Corpus Christi, particularly the West Side, and one day that vision will become a reality with lots of hard work and help from my community members.

What do you have planned for the short and longterm future?

After my solo show, I will be installing over 70 works of art for my Chicas Bonitas: All Female Exhibition at La Retama Central Library. I am so excited for the Meet the ARTist reception on April 21 / 3-6pm and see the community support the female artists. The week after Chicas Bonitas, I will be traveling to California to Cultura Fest in San Diego and be a representative for Corpus Christi. I decided to extend my trip to California and go to Los Angeles and meet my Chicano Instagram Family. With the power of social media, I have been building bridges with artists from California to show in CC. Once I return, I will have a solo show pop-up at Nueces Lofts May 4 / 6:30-8:30 during Marina Arts District’s Artwalk. During June, I will be a lead youth art camp instructor for the Art Center of Corpus Christi and the Garcia Arts & Education Center. In July, I will be one of the lead instructors for K Space Contemporary mural arts camp. This upcoming Fall, I plan to enroll in the MAS(Mexican American Studies) Program at Del Mar College and work on my third degree. My future goals are to keep creating more public art projects with community involvement, to continue inspiring and educating younger and older art generations, pushing Chicano Art to the forefront of American art and eventually the world, to continue my personal education endeavors, and to continue growing as an artist.

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