Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Isidora Paz Lopez, Ceramist, Mosaicist and Muralist, Tells Her Story

I am a Chilean ceramist, mosaicist and muralist. In the past 5 years my main interest has been to make public art and create community projects.

I am part of the third generation of an artist family. Art has always been present in my life. My grandfather is a great painter, but I cannot say that I was influenced or that I learned from him because there is not too much that we shared. 

This black and white photo was taken the first time I met my grandfather. We are in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago de Chile. He was a professor there when the art school was in the Museum before the Pinochet dictatorship. This is a historical picture -- I remember this day. We went inside of the Museum and my mom and grandpa started to remember some histories. In the past he had his studio in the top of this palace, and when my mom was a little girl, she used to spend a lot of time there. She said that this Museum was like her house and she was the princess of this place. So, I started to feel like a princes too.

With my Grandfather Eduardo Martinez Bonati in1982

My grandmother, Carmen Garcia Rodriguez, was also an artist. Unfortunately, shortly before I was born she was killed. Her spirit has been always present in our family and her artwork has been preserved as a treasure. I identify with her a lot.

My mother is a ceramic sculptor, an autodidact multi-faceted artist. She lives in a very special way. She is the kind of person that makes art like a normal ritual of life, making art with the simple things of every day, like her way of presenting food on the table, or arranging her altar, or even her in the clothes she chooses to wear. She is always looking for beauty and esthetic harmony around her, living her life in a very romantic and fanciful way. She was my first “art school”.

Weaving with my beautiful mother, Elisa Martinez Garcia

Our family got split up when the Pinochet dictatorship was in Chile in 1973. Most of the family on my mother’s side moved to Europe. We stayed in Chile and I grew up in those dangerous and chaotic times when cultural development was punished. There was a lot of censorship and limitation for artists because all artists were suspected of being subversive.  It was natural to be a rebel in these circumstances, especially if you have a critical view of society and have chosen to be an artist as an option for life.

My adolescence was very conflictive. I was in crisis with the adult world because of the fake behavior of the adult people, including my parents. During those times seniors disappointed me and I didn't trust anyone. My friends, artists, and party mates became my family and I started to disconnect from mine and be more on my own. The street was like my second home. I liked to frequent underground clandestine places filled with ambience and freaky people (I still do). For me, at that time, they were more authentic. With them, I felt more affinity and containment. In my teens I was far from what society expects of a good young girl. I felt very marginal, unaccepted, undervalued and unloved.

In the same way that you can make art out of trash, broken tiles, or unexpected materials, making something good out of something useless… art as philosophy of life helped me to survive those difficult moments and turn them in something better. Bad experiences, pain, suffering, loneliness, fears, confusion, depression, all kind of bad feelings can be released through artistic experience. In my case, art has been a great therapy that saved me in many moments, allowing me to recycle emotions, helping me to find my center and in a concrete way led me to realize not to waste my life and instead be useful.

Ceramic Semi-Reliefs in Raku

Since I was born I have never lived in the same house for more than 4 years. With my mom we constantly moved from one place to another. With so many changes of neighborhoods and schools, I got used to leaving people along the way and moving on. When I left my mother’s house at age 19 I continued this gypsy lifestyle. Even though I always wanted to find a place where I could settle down, that did not happen. Now I am 41 years old and I have lived in 26 houses.

Actually I am living in Germany the past 2 - 1/2 years, with my husband and my 3 kids. And what does this have to do with my art?  I mention this to point out that the constancy of making art is the more stable thing I have had throughout my life. To be an artist is the only thing that I always knew for sure about me. 

Over my life I have been so many different versions of myself. Even if some of these styles have nothing to do with each other, all these facets were an authentic reflection of the moment that I was living. Some periods were very masculine, others were very feminine, and some periods I was fanatical about exercise. Other times were more mystical and spiritual.

Everything is part of constantly discovering who I am. Unraveling Pandora’s box inside of me is sometimes full of contradictions. But the one part of my identity that doesn’t change is my passion for making art. This is the biggest motivation that I have and is something essential in my growing and my validation as a person.

Two of the principal energies that move my life are art and love. Art is the expression of my spirit, what I try to give… and love is the necessity of my heart, what I try to get. It is not just the money I get paid for my work, it is also the love and gratitude I receive from people. That is food for my ego, but mainly, it is love healing my heart.

Because of my work I learned to be proud of the life that I have chosen to live. Art makes me brave as a warrior, fighting for my dreams. So many times I have seen how conservative or normal people have looked down on me because they believe that art is a hobby, not a real profession, and it is even worse if you are a woman. But, as Madonna said in one of her recent speeches, “All these people who have despised me, all those who have put obstacles in my way, they have, in fact, empowered me more and made me stronger”.

Totem, Pirque, Chile, 2009

When I started to study art I didn’t know what specialty to choose, because I liked them all. I liked to paint, to make sculptures and try all different kind of materials. I finally chose ceramics as my specialty, because I could integrate volumetric forms and color at the same time. My work has always been very experimental. I have created sculptures, semi-reliefs in Raku, musical instruments in ceramic and different kind of decorative objects. Sometimes I do small things full of little meticulous detail and other times I make artwork in large formats, like the Totem and my expansive mosaic mural projects.

I like to take on challenges in my work and see what comes out when I make something new. Also, when I like a technique, I try to explore it and use all the possibilities it gives me, trying to improve my skills in every new creation. In artwork, there is always something more to learn and put into practice.

My great aunt, Paulina Concha Bonati, visiting the mosaic mural work
in a metro station in Puente Alto, Chile

It was the year 2011 when I began to do mosaic and I fell in love with the technique. Making mosaic murals in the streets I discovered a new passion for making public art. This experience opened a new dimension of possibilities, giving a turn in my growth as an artist. In 2012 I was commissioned to lead a very large mosaic project, covering 83 pillars and 4 stations at the metro train that crosses Puente Alto.

More than 100 people participated in the creation of 4.000 square meters of that mosaic. It was an extraordinary experience – an intensive work commitment and learning taking nearly two years non-stop, with a lot of gratification after the work was completed.

Mosaics bring benefits that you see over a long period of time. Street art takes part of the identity of a place and inspires the surrounding community. Art integrates and connects people. I really like and enjoy all the phases of community projects. The interaction between artists -- learning from each other – the friendship that are built and the union of forces is indescribable. Teamwork is fundamental for make big things and it is a big life-learning lesson too.

I am very thankful for all the opportunities that life has given me as an artist, and for all the wonderful people that I have worked with from my homeland as well as all around the world. Genial artists, lovely friends, fantastic people that have contributed to make great things happen, have all been part of this creative journey I am living.

Mosaic Team, Puente Alto, Chile 2012

Over the last 4 years some of my fantasy projects have materialized and I have achieved much more than I ever expected. This gives me a lot of energy to keep going and strengthens my belief in my creative intuition. My self-esteem and confidence continues to grow like a beautiful lotus flower emerging from the darkness of the past difficult years. And this magical transformation inside of me is still going on. I am continually learning to trust more in the divine force that moves us all.

Thanks to art I have learned to love me and love life more. Being an artist is a big blessing, it gives me hope and strength and desire to share this love with the rest of the world. Because of this I am so fascinated with doing public art. Art for everybody, art that can transform, improve spaces and provoke a a myriad of feelings in people.

Mosaic mural in homage to the Mapuche
Community in Puente Alto, Chile

Life is beautiful, wonderful, and so very generous. Nature is amazing and our human capacities are infinite. Every living being is unique. We are the creators of our lives and our histories, and as free creators we can convert our reality in a positive way, every one of us potentially has this power.

I like to think that I have chosen a good mission because bringing art to the streets is necessary. I think that this world, in the insane times that we are living, needs an urgent change of vision to see life in another way. We need to open our hearts and consciences and stop the destruction. Maybe I am too naive, but I really believe that art can help to change the world for the better.

During the making of the mosaic mural Carnival Nymph the wonderful
carnival dancers of San Nicolás visited us, Aruba, 2016

This is the final post of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks for 2016. Thank you for reading and sharing Isidora’s story today. To connect with her and see videos and photos of her work, please visit the following links.


Architektur Fachmagazin ( pages 8 and 10) : 
Mosaic Art Now 2012 : 
Mosaic Art Now 2013 : 
Revista Capital, Chile: 



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Tom Sawyer, Visual Artist, Tells His Story

Every Sawyer family must have a Tom Sawyer! I have gleaned so very much from that name: Tom-foolery, Tom Terrific, Tom Tom the Piper’s Son, Doubting Thomas, Tom Slick, Uncle Tom, Tomcat, Tomboy  … And I paint much more than fences!

My earliest memories are of colors, light, lines, textures, and shapes. While my siblings watched cartoons for their comedy and story-line, I watched for the vibrancy of the palette and interaction of drawing and form. Being born into a family of artsy types—my father taught Graphic Arts and owned and managed print shops, he and his father both dabbled in drawing, my uncle designed and built totem poles, my sister spent hours perfecting drawing the face—my bent was noticed and my parents provided special projects to involve my fascination for art. I also have intense interests in electronics, chrome, and glass.  In third grade, my teacher singled me out and made me the art director of a major class project. I began private lessons beyond school about age 11. My dad once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I responded, “I’d like to be an artist, but you only get paid to do work you don’t like to do.” After laughter, I knew I had his support, but really he wished I’d have something else to fall back on—maybe my perception wasn’t so far off!

College would have been even greater if I was allowed to take only the art classes at the University of Georgia. Eventually I set out for art school, never dreaming I would be completely transformed into a whole new artist. I enrolled at Ringling School of Art and Design in 1983 with the dream to be the best realist artist I could be, a serious contender in the field of Photorealism through a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During my first year, my detailed pencil drawings defined my signature style.  In response to the strength of my realism drawings I often encountered the question, “Why the need for art school?” My quick reply was always, “Pencil drawing isn’t the best medium to compete with other Realists. I need to paint. So my single purpose in coming to art school is to better my skills as an oil painter." I had targeted my needs and thus created a solid plan focused for success as a Realist painter. 

Bob Dylan, pencil and paper

My professors supported my passion for Realism art, but felt it necessary for me to study other artists and art movements opposite my style. After a year and a half of assignments and many reluctant studies of ‘crazy abstract painters’—artists well outside my pursuit and scope of Realism art—the overload of these undesirable assignments and pressure deadlines ultimately gave birth overnight to a rebel artist…a new artist named m o t.

Andy, Angry -- Acrylic on Canvas

Just as my pseudonym is the backward spelling of my name, m o t  creations were also the polar opposite of my realistic, aesthetic, and artistic aspirations. The m o t  style is wildly filled with energy, flair, and symbolism. Coping with a sudden duality was difficult.  At first, I treated my new self, m o t, as a satirical clown, a comic relief to the assignment stress at school. even decided to let m o t  take on my class assignments. I was not only totally unprepared for the about-face change inside of me, but also incredibly surprised by the favorable wave of support m o t  art received. Viewers didn’t see the carefree joke behind m o t  art the same way I did. Their eyes saw some something of value was yet too blind to see.

I credit the talent and inspiration within me as a God-Shaped-Gift given with purpose. The growth of m o t  became seemingly unending and out of control. It took a prayer to God for a choice to be made.  I agreed to feed the m o t  styled art as long as the gift kept flowing. “As soon as the ideas dry up, I’m back to my Realism art,” I would say.  The gift kept on giving. My perception of my new self, m o t, eventually became a strong positive. I saw how m o t  art could reach a new audience by communicating with a subjective voice. … A new tone never before experienced through my realism art.

Godhead -- Logo in Acrylic on River Rock

m o t,  over the years has matured into its own style and entity. My professional backgrounds in Graphic Design (Tom Sawyer Studios) and Photography (signed rey-was-mot) (Dad’s “fall back” plan B) have played a major role in shaping the core of my m o t  style with m o t  being the product hybrid of Fine Art & Graphic Design. Several series have spun from the m o t  signature including the zany, whimsical menagerie of animals called m o t - z o o.

    mot-zoo Virtual Gallery

Many of my m o t  pieces draw from my own processing of tragic or monumental events and the application of my faith to those events: Chernobyl (Chernobyl Bill), the Challenger explosion (John), the Cold War (Angel), the Japanese Tsunami (motzilla), Columbus Day Quincentennial Celebration (Columbus & Isabella), the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (20 Angels). I have applied the same faculties toward celebrities and personas.

20 Angels

My latest series of designs take on a more abstract than representational portrayal of subject matter, more about colors and patterns than recognizable stories and forms. These can be translated to canvas for gallery exhibits, printed onto textiles for use in the fashion industry, fragmented onto multiple independent pieces for interior design. Color, texture, and scale have the possibility of limitless variations. Art has an interaction with people beyond the drive of the artist to produce pieces. Art is an internationally interpreted voice. I hope what is conveyed though my voice is more than decoration, but the substantive meaning pouring through the art, whether it be the identification of a struggle or crisis or conflict, an adoration of virtues like love or joy, or even a description of God Himself.

Plexigrid, Virtual Gallery

This is Week 49 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Tom's story today. To connect with Tom and see more of his work, please visit the following social media links: