By Dilinna Ugochukwu
“Art is a way to show your voice,” Sofia Antonia Vazquez states. “It’s important that people of different races with different perspectives and cultures get their voices heard through art.” Through her artwork—which can transition from surreal depictions of drowning to realistic drawings against racial inequality—Vazquez shares her passions and ideas with the world.
Vazquez was born in the United States but lived most of her life in Mexico, only recently moving back to America. She finds inspiration from her Mexican culture: “There are festivals in Mexico where they make skulls out of clay and art with ceramic glass. My art is heavily influenced by those ideas.” Some of her favorite artists include Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera—famous Mexican artists who captured elements of their homeland in their work. Perhaps due to their influence, her latest pieces feature the vivid colors found in Mexican folk art. For example, she recently created a sculpture inspired by the “bright and beautiful” clay skulls made for the Day of the Dead.
Vasquez’s move to America has had benefits and drawbacks. In the United States, she has access to better supplies such as paints, pastels, and colored pencils: “There are things here that I can do here that I couldn't do in Mexico,” she notes. However, moving from Mexico has also had artistic downsides. In the United States, Vazquez has been homeschooled, which means that she doesn't have the opportunity to take art classes in a traditional school setting. Instead, whenever she wins an art contest, she uses the prize money to buy herself supplies and teaches herself different art mediums using online videos. Over time, her discipline and self-motivation has led to her learning sculpting, painting, photography, and drawing, as well as improvements in her work: “I only used to copy from photos and just use reference material to do art,” but now “I've tried to make it centered on different subjects and different ideas.”
In an ideal world, Vazquez would pursue a degree in art history or in art. However, because she feels there is a lack of job opportunities in artistic fields, she plans on pursuing business. “I have pressure to get a degree in something I can make money in and help my family with,” she says. She feels a special obligation to members of her family that couldn’t immigrate back to the United States: “I have opportunities here, being in this country, that my cousins and my friends in Mexico aren’t going to have.”
Although Vazquez does not have her sights set on a long term career in art, she still continues to pursue her passion. Despite a lack of traditional resources, she continues to find ways to make art and express herself. She encourages other artists to keep creating as well. Young artists can make a difference by “trying to showcase their talents and talk about their experience,” she said. Above all else, “keep working hard.”
All photos/artwork by Sofia Antonia Vazquez.