Monday, February 27, 2012

Artist snapshot: Jorge G. Zavala (Part 2 of 2)

"Ying with infectious disease"
(continued from Part 1)

Where do you often find ideas or inspiration for your work?
My inspiration comes from society. I’d like to think that my artwork is a subtle critique on accepted social norms and I invite the viewer to question their ideas about a certain topic. Much of my past work dealt with the changing faces of American Indian/Latino populations, as well as the developing notion of identity within their respective communities. My current work was inspired by my life in Bangkok, Thailand, and the observations I made as an outsider looking in.

What’s your favorite medium?
Graphite, acrylic paint and a mix of ink and colored pencils. I like to keep things simple.

What other types of mediums do you hope to experiment with?
As I develop my work, I'd like to incorporate more organic matter into my pieces, such as grass blades, hair or dried leaves. I love the feel of nature on a piece and really like the browns, greens, and everything in between.

"Nothing to hide"
Can you describe the concept behind your work?
Most, if not all, of my work is a reflection of the people I've met over the years, faces I remember and dream about, as well as the issues I contemplate as a believer in the human spirit.
While living and working in Thailand for nearly two years, I witnessed many beautiful things: Thai hospitality, the spiciest food ever, beautiful beaches and a very cool art scene.
However, I was also exposed to what Bangkok is notoriously knowing for: human trafficking and the skin trade. Because prostitution and the trafficking of young men, women and children are so rampant, it's really difficult to know who is voluntarily working in that field or was coerced into doing so. My artwork, which was presented at Al Teatro Ristorante on February 25th showcases portraits of Thai men and women currently and formally engaged in the skin trade.

How would you describe art in the Pilsen area?
The best word to describe it is avant-garde. I feel that the mix of materials used, the concepts and the ideology behind each artist’s work is a really awesome juxtaposition that incorporates politics of our time, as well as the joie de vivre that comes with everyday life. This wonderful mix makes Pilsen art unique.

Who are some of your favorite Pilsen-based artists?
Puchai Jaeng
I really like Edra Soto's use of imagery and graphite. Her subject matter works well for her and I like the emotion I can sense in her recent collection, Vividos. I also like Huong Ngo's work that, to me appears to be a great mix of performance, acting, documentary, photography, and community engagement. It's an awesome mix of many things I love and I’m especially fond of "Secret School."

What do you think of the Chicago art scene?
I would have to say that the Chicago art scene is not as developed as I'd like it to be. I think that formal art presentations, such as those in galleries, shows and museums are really fun but they lack a certain je ne sais quoi. My travels throughout Asia really challenged me to find things that are reflective of our urban environment, our struggles and our pride.
Pilsen has artists and artwork that reflects social consciousness, an edgy attitude and it’s very much connected with the reality that is Chicago in 2012. I'm a fan. I dig the Pilsen art scene, and I think Chicago as a whole needs to feel more comfortable letting loose and follow the path Pilsen artists have developed.

- Irish

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