Mexico, Mi Amor

Let’s Talk About My Love Affair With Mexico

An Unlikely Connection, Thank You Sarah Connor

The first time I was impacted by Mexico, I was 6-years-old, watching The Terminator one late night in 1992. Sarah Connor had just survived a horrific encounter with a cyborg and was fleeing from the US to Mexico. That glimpse of Mexico was just enough…

First, I was hugely inspired by the Terminator movie. The stop-motion animation and special effects lead me to want to become a prop designer for movies. That didn’t happen, but the skills I acquired on the way towards that goal lend a helping hand to everything else I do in life.

Secondly, I wanted to learn more about Mexico because Sarah fled the US to be there. “Why’d she do that?”, I often wondered. To this day, there is an even stronger connection between Mexico and the Terminator franchise; Terminator: Dark Fate.

The connection between my interest in design and love for Mexican art and culture has also strengthened over time as I eventually found myself forever bound to it.

An Attraction I Can’t Ignore

Sugar skulls, bright colors, extravagant patterns, tasty foods, and a passionate family connection; I wanted to be adopted into the Mexican culture when I was a kid. As if my life weren’t complicated enough being a mulatto child with dark skin raised with a traditionally white American cultural understanding of the world. I felt like, the culture called to me.

In high school, I studied the paintings of Frida Kahlo and identified with her self-perceptions. Later in life I learned about Pedro Linares, the artist that created the mythical Alebrije, and found common ground in his visions and my own belief system. The various folk art associated with each state has always intrigued and inspired me.

What I am most attracted to about the Mexican art scene isn’t the art itself, but the culture around it. They take time to create pieces, and they value those pieces. In the US we rush to produce quantity over quality. If we aren’t producing a high volume of works, we aren’t hustling. This flaw in our society leaves us unable to truly appreciate the skill involved in creation and the visual details necessary to observe a person’s truths in life. Art in the US, generally speaking, is commercialized and decorative for the majority of us.

Mexico’s Urban Art Toy Scene: Plus Ultra Exclusive

Left: Design by Frank Mysterio | Right: Blank form design by Cristina Pineda.

As the urban art toy trend reached new popularity in the US (circa 2008-2016), Mexico saw a similar trend with a character developed as a Mexican art toy called Xico, created by Cristina Pineda. Similar to the Munny by Kidrobot, Xico is a blank toy that is characterized by decorations that embody each region’s unique art styles. Unlike the Munny, a Xico is hard to find. I know because I searched multiple cities for one. Finally finding them at ¡Ay Guey! I absolutely love the design of the Xico, and it only furthered my love for Mexican art, especially because these were not massed produced. The exclusivity made them more unique and added value to the art. Someday, I want to design one myself.

Bold, Bright, and Accepted

Throughout most of my schooling in the arts and graphic design, I was told to be more subtle; less bold, less bright, less colorful. Boring! Of course, I complied, taking direction is necessary for certain scenarios, and certainly, my teachers were helping me to appreciate variation and change. However, most of my successes have been found in being bold and bright.

The Give and Take” – received the majority of its online attention from 13-year-old boys in Mexico.
I was shocked…

What the online metrics of my art demonstrated to me, and a lesson to anyone reading is that your audience may not be there, where you are. As such the criticism you face at home might be hyper-critical because the critics simply don’t like your style. Someone who favors bland food is not going to rave about something spicy.

In 2017, I married Manuel Rubio and became a part of a Mexican-American family. When my husband’s family found out about my graphic design skills, they put them to the test. With each project they had for me, I found greater acceptance of my still-developing style. I recognize there is a difference between myself as an artist and a designer – the ways I visually convey experience, emotion, and thoughts – but every project brings me closer to bridging that gap.

Pasaporte De Matrimonio – Project

In 2019, my sister and brother-in-law had a church wedding in Mexico. I was honored that they asked me to create their “save the date” and official invitations. Since they were having the wedding in Mexico, they wanted to theme the STD and invites as a plane boarding pass and a passport book.

Despite my love of Mexican culture and my own Colombian heritage, I can’t speak Spanish. This was the first project I completed that incorporated Spanish, and it was a little difficult. I learned more about the Adobe glyph tool during this project than in any other I’ve done.

In the project, I used textures and photographs from Mexico. I also experimented with the color as Erica’s one request was the use of a rose pink (not a typical color I use).

Tlaza. Mich. Plate – Project

My father-in-law, Miguel Rubio, recently purchased a white, Ford F-150 with a crew cab for work and trips to Mexico. He’s outfitting it with chrome trim and little details to personalize it. One of the things he wanted most was a new front plate that emphasized their hometown, Tlazazalca. His current plate is a hand-painted picture of the church located in the town’s plaza surrounded by shrubbery and blue skies.

He asked me if I could update the old plate with lettering similar to an Old English style. He wanted “Tlaza” placed front and center. I didn’t want to ruin his plate by trying to paint over it, so I constructed one based on what he valued in the original. At first, I kept the blue skies and mountains in the background, but after he told me to take freedom, I went with a more bold look. Whenever I visit Mexico, I photograph as much as I can for future projects like this.

SLC Lil’ Feet Boot Auction, “Nothing Else Matters” Sacred Heart Design

Up next – a preview of the Saint Lucie County (SLC) Lil’ Feet Boot Auction entry. Inspired by… you guessed it, Mexican art and culture. This design uses the Sacred Heart motif, which is a Christian symbol for God’s love and sacrifice for humanity. While I am not a Christian, I am a firm believer in God and the compassion exhibited by Jesus of Nazareth. With that appreciation, I believe anyone can find beauty in the Sacred Heart design. I’ll reveal more about the boot soon (when I complete it).

Support the SLC Lil’ Feet cause by donating to the organization or coming to the auction. This year, the auction will take place on October 21, 5:30 – 8:00 PM at the River Walk Center in Fort Pierce. Tickets are $35/person or $60/couple.

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