Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hailing from Mexico City, we have...

Introducing...., Ivan Mendez Vela!

For a few weeks, Ivan will be filling the book bindery with paper, book boards, ink bottles, and brushes...all shaping into beautiful, three dimensional books.

Ivan graduated from Escuela National de Artes Plasticas, one of the few national schools for visual arts in Mexico City. After a week, and already noticing a large 3D book model covered with intricate ink drawings sitting in the bindery, we decided to pick his brain as he worked. Ideas about culture, the beauty as well as heaviness in Mexico City, favorite English words, and comparisons of Mexico City and Silver Spring quickly started buzzing around the studio. 

He spoke about a sadness that seems to exist in the area where he is from. It can be seen through the actions of the people day to day; littering is common place, as well as the lack of motivation. As Ivan puts it, "I call it the I don't life style...I don't want to do anything". Even though this seemed like a depressing conversation at first, Ivan started relating it back to his work, and things gained a depth that was refreshing.

Ivan's work integrates wonderful, inky markings that create a warm and intriguing, yet a little creepy, atmosphere. The markings aren't perfect, but it seems like each has it's perfect place. "I became impressed by the atmospheres that Victor Hugo captured in this book I found. You know, they look maybe creepy, maybe like bad memory, maybe intriguing in a good way." And he goes on about how he wants to take that atmosphere, the idea of an unconscious sadness existing in his city, and create understanding through the eyes.

Onward to happier questions, when asked about his favorite word, Ivan's face lit up. "YES! Witchcraft!" We both laugh. I didn't expect that word... but then again, what words do you expect with that question? "Anything with the sound craft. Woodcraft, aircraft, anything..but witchcraft is the best."

When asked about the biggest cultural difference he's experienced so far, his face lit up again. "Washington D.C. is like a model! Everything so beautiful, so clean. Each house with a garden, and beautiful trees. I thought Oh my god, I'm not in my land anymore!"

...And the conversation went on, with Spanish and English words mixed. In half an hour, I'll cheese-ly admit that my heart was refreshed by talking to an artist whose work connects so much to their land.

Come check out Ivan next week when he gives an artist talk at Pyramid Atlantic!