Local Latino/a Artist
of the Month
- Jamie Chihuan -
"While I was born in Longmont, Colorado my parents traveled a long way to make that a possibility. My father is from Peru and my mother is Mexican. I grew up lacking Mexican culture since I went to a predominantly white school. Peruvian culture was something I was accustomed to since many of my dad's family members lived here. The Mexican culture my mom tried to show us would cling to me and eventually be heavily shown through my art.
"In school, I had very different plans than becoming an artist. I wanted to study mathematics or maybe even become a physicist. But sometime during my junior year I fell in love with creating and when I graduated I was focused on becoming an influential artist.
"My journey over the past 3 years has led me to a point where I am comfortable doing what I like. I took that amount of time for me to solidify my style and niche. I mainly do surreal work but I am not afraid to try different styles. My themes are based on things I saw growing up. I also tie a lot of spirituality and religious meanings into my pieces. Some would say work is very “Dali-esque” but everyone seems to point out a different artist that my work reminds them of." - Jamie Chihuan
How do you incorporate your heritage, identity, &/or culture into your work & why?
The way I incorporate my heritage into my work is through my use of symbols, specifically my use of skulls. One of the main reasons I include skulls in my art is to reference Santa Muerte. I would see her alters all over my house since my mom was a believer. A Lot of my skeleton pieces are often mistaken for Dia De Los Muertos because of my use of colors.
Tell us a bit about being a Latino artist or the Latino artist community.
As a Latino artist I feel empowered to make as much art as I can but at the same time I feel like I have less opportunities in this industry mainly ruled by white males and females. Other than being just a Latino artist, I'm also an outsider artist in the sense that I have no prior art training. This lack of credentials and networking put me at a disadvantage compared to someone who graduates from art school. But that does not stop me because I am doing things now that people wait 4 years for.
On My 10th Life (NFS), Colored Pencil, 2021. Maneki-neko is a Japanese cat that is said to bring good luck. I wanted to portray one in my desert landscapes as a figure that'll help make my dreams come true. The title is a play on cats having 9 lives. I like to think this cat is special.
Keep that love to yourself, Watercolor, 2021. This piece was inspired by a previous piece I made in early 2020, Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums because of the way colors blend. In this piece, the skeleton figure is holding the rose closely. It is protecting the last love it has and it won't let it go. This piece is also inspired by the Santa Muerte.
Green Lady Gardens is all about celebrating the joy of color. Does the phrase "celebrating the joy of color" mean anything to you?
Celebrating the joy of color to me means the celebration of loving life. Often when we are at our lowest we tend to see the world in monotone ways. Once you start to notice all the little colors you can finally breathe and enjoy life.
Stay Happy, Watercolor, 2021. This piece was inspired by another artist from new york. His IG is @Sunflower_form. The piece is mainly about keeping a smile on your fave through the wort of it. Always see the world in warm colors and think positive thoughts to manifest a reality you want.
Address the use of color in your work.
I have always been fascinated by the way colors make people react and how we all hold different meanings to our favorite color. I tend to use a lot of warm colors like red and orange because I want my art to feel inviting. While some of my subjects like death may be grim the colors always shed a new light. I want people to think of death as not something to mourn about but something to celebrate. Life is beautiful and death can be the same way. Warm colors also allow me to feel the warmth I was missing while I grew up. In a way I paint these paintings to help me alleviate the past issues I have dealt with. One color I tend to avoid and barely use is green ironically, the color of life.
The faint spirit of the past, Acrylic, 2021. This piece captures the memories two people have had together. The two glowing hearts one blue and one red are symbols of these people and the love they share. The hearts continue to look over the ridge as they come together but the bodies of the people have left long ago.
All images are the property of Jamie Chihuan.
Some content may have been edited for clarity.