Interview: Laura Ortiz Vega Portrays the Wildstyle Funk in Thread
Laura Ortiz Vega grew up right in the heart of Mexico City, which has had a massive influence on her art. She’s a “documentary artist,” recreating the graffiti of urban neighborhoods using a textile method developed by the indigenous Huichol people.
After showing her latest pieces at Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm, Sweden, we linked with Ortiz Vega to get to know the mastermind behind the masterpieces.
What inspires your art and when do you feel most inspired to paint?
What inspires my art is Mexico’s great tradition of craftsmanship and strong visual culture. I feel most inspired to work in the morning because I feel fresh. Also, because of the level of detail and scale of my pieces, I prefer to work only with daylight, to take care of my eyes.
What kinds of emotions and feelings do you channel into your art and what do hope it conveys?
When I am working, I feel joy. I feel focused and calm, but very energetic. I can say that working on my pieces is my daily meditation and enjoyment, and I hope that that energy is shown in the work.
How did you discover your artistic ability?
I have always been attracted to objects made by hand. I studied Industrial Design at Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City, because I wanted to be in close contact with manual production; I wanted to know how to construct an object. I began to knit and crochet and loved the immediate results of it. Then I found two pieces of Huichol art. So I thought, Why not use that same technique for other kinds of images?
What separates your style of graffiti from everything else out there?
My work is different to street graffiti in the sense that it is created indoors; it is intimate, delicate, and very personal. I do not consider myself a graffiti artist. I love urban landscapes, and of course graffiti is a very important part of it
Your style uses techniques of the Huichol people. Can you elaborate on what that means?
The traditional Huichol (Indigenous group of the Northwest-center of Mexico) technique consists of painting with bright and colorful yarn or glass beads, “glued” to the surface using beeswax called cera de campeche.
I use the same elements, thread and beeswax, to create my images. In my latest works I have also incorporated glass beads.
How has growing up in Mexico City played a part in your art?
Growing up in Mexico City means everything to my art because here I found the traditional and indigenous living side by side with the most contemporary manifestations of art and cultural expression.
I’ve read that you see yourself as a “documentary artist.” What does that phrase or description mean to you?
I have always been fascinated by urban landscapes. I have seen many great graffiti pieces being erased or destroyed and I needed to preserve them in some way. So, I began to document them. Those images inspired the creation of my Personal Landscapes series.