|Jorge G. Zavala|
For Jorge G. Zavala, 25, human rights development is a full-time occupation, while art is a part-time hobby. But during his recent exhibit at Al Teatro Ristorante, these two passions collide.
The DePaul alumni takes a moment to discuss a trip to Asia that shaped his work and why he thinks the city’s mainstream art scene should take a few pointers from Pilsen’s more eclectic art scene.
No, I work in human rights and international development so it's definitely a part-time passion.
Which program were you in at DePaul?
I was part of the International Studies program and was additionally active in the Global Asia Studies Program (then referred to as the Asian/Asian American Studies program) as well as Japanese Studies.
Did you formally train as an artist?
Never. I began my life as an artist at the age of five when I played with crayons and I developed that into comic strips and eventually into portraits and landscapes in graphite, pencil, and acrylic paint.
What made you realize you wanted to become an artist?
I've always had a passion for people and my surroundings. I love being creative and feel that through art I can express thoughts, concepts, and ideas I couldn't otherwise through spoken word. Being an artist grants me the opportunity to create something interesting (I hope!) that makes people think and question what they know about a certain topic or idea.
Who’s your all-time favorite artist and why?
That's a tough one. I would have to say my favorite artist is Paul Gauguin. His use of color, portraits and symbolism really impress me every time I look at them. Particularly, I’m a huge fan of portraits and capturing the essence of a person through the stare and the vitality of “the look” that one has. I love doing that with my own work and I see it in Gauguin’s work quite regularly, specifically in his series of French Polynesian work.
How would you describe your style?
Simple and fresh. I make portraits – I draw people. I have them look at me, so that they’re looking at you, the audience, when the piece is complete. I strive to make sure my subject is thinking about something meaningful, something deep in order to convey a serious yet passionate look. I'm not a fan of making things overly ornate. Instead, I like to follow Japanese aesthetics: simple is more.
(Continued in Part 2)