Interview w/ Artists of Austin

Jennifer Pate AKA Maridad

“ My inspiration lies in the mundane and everyday actions that can remind people the beauty of being alive today. Food instills such a visceral memory of life, it connects people together.”

Online shop: maridad illustrations

What triggered your initial interest to make art?

I was a very observant child and when I began creating art I recognized that realism would hold my attention and patience in such a wonderful place. It was my own small island in my mind where I could escape to wherever I needed. In a cramped single family of five, I would hide a sketchbook and flashlight in the corner of the coat closet; it was my own private place to get lost in thought. 

My fourth grade teacher gave me my first real art set on my desk after lunch one day, I thought it was an accident until she said it was a gift. I remember taking it home and inspecting all the different supplies I had never used before from watercolors to pastels. I put the set in a special place and actually never used it, I still look at it today although the supplies look petrified by time. I took my first art class when I was 12 years old, unless you count drawing along to a VHS tape recording of Pappy Land. I have been so fortunate to have teachers that support me and my art practice, but I’ve always been searching for more meaning within my art. While obtaining my BFA, I began to conceptually understand better the history and significance behind realism as an art form. This challenged me to push more unconventional subjects within my paintings..

 In college I dedicated my art practice to oil painting and loved honing in on areas of realism that would feel surreal. It wasn’t until after graduation when I went back to my roots and begin drawing on paper again. There was a freshness, an ease, and a remembrance of my childhood when paper and crayons were my only outlet. As a child I would draw on anything I could get my hands on even if that meant on the walls or hidden surfaces under a desk or table. Remembering the beauty of where it all began and how I’ve changed to grow into the artist I am today only further excites me for what the future will hold. 

What have been some of your main sources of inspiration?

My inspiration lies in the mundane and everyday actions that can remind people the beauty of being alive today. Food instills such a visceral memory of life, it connects people together. As a child I wanted to be a chef, watching food network and aspiring to create beautiful edible art. As an artist, I feel like I get to live that dream through my art practice, the possibilities are endless on a blank canvas. 

I use my camera to document, I take a lot of pictures but will never consider myself a photographer. Pictures quickly capture my inspiration, the moments in life where things feel perfectly imperfect. I enjoy being able to pull a sample from my own library of life to compose an image. It’s important for me to be the vessel that soaks up life in order to show people some of my favorite parts. 

I’ve always been inspired by the human figure and all of its intricacies, I work from life every opportunity I get. The tricky game of painting/drawing from life is that I’ll never be able to truly replicate it, so the areas I choose to focus on inherently become the focal points in the image. By using only parts of the figure, the arms and legs are able to tell a story, and to facilitate voyeurism, I strive to capture the feeling of movement in a still two-dimensional image.

I get a lot of questions as where my business name and alias Maridad comes from. My grandmother was a huge inspiration to me as a child so I decided to combine our middle names (Marie + Caridad = Maridad) it means to marry/combine in Spanish and I thought it worked perfectly with the way I enjoy making art. 

What’s the core message you want to convey? 

For me, the point of making these illustrations is to let loose and have some fun, and I think people can feel that when they look at them. I am more creative once I’ve given myself a few rules to play by and each image is created in just a few hours so I never get the opportunity to loose motivation. So far the ideas and options seem endless and that kind of freedom is why I’ve always enjoyed making art. I want people to find their happiness, I’m not sure if you can ask for much more in a 5x7 print. 

What would you recommend to other artists that seek for inspiration? 

Usually inspiration will hide right under your nose the whole time. I’ve had so many instances where analyzing my past art has brought clarity to my current art practice, critiquing art has become my own form of going to therapy. It’s also important to experience what artists have accomplished before you and how it can effect what you choose to make/discuss through art. Inspiration is like a tree in that way, there are the roots and all the history that brings you to where it is today. You might feel small like a new weak branch but soon enough you’ll grow and flower as the seasons change. You just gotta hang in there!

Viewing local art is a great place to start, being present in the community by creating conversations about your own artistic standpoint. It brings me so much joy to be a part of the amazing artist community here in my hometown of Austin, Tx where some of the best art is just around the corner. Austin also provides many amazing opportunities such as the East Austin Studio Tour, where hundreds of local artists display their work around the east side. Some of my favorite venues in town are:  

- Mass Gallery 

- Women & Their Work 

- Cherry Cola Dog

- Flatbed Press & Gallery 

- Contemporary Austin 

- Pump Project 

Talking to like-minded individuals has always brought fresh inspiration into my studio practice. Asking a local artist you admire to pick their brains over coffee can also be a great way to inspire a new process. Austin has such a diverse artist culture there is bound to be someone you can relate to! 

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