February 16, 2024

Consider with Maria-Alejandra Arauz

By Concrete Collective
Consider with Maria-Alejandra Arauz
1   What moves and inspires you most?
  1   I recently spent some time in Oaxaca. Arriving and driving into the city center felt like I was in my hometown of Leon, Nicaragua again. Throughout the course of my stay, I often felt those traditions I grew up knowing in New Orleans, how life and death are celebrated. I love how the old world meets the new in many different senses; artistically, traditionally, and culturally. They say that in Mitla, Oaxaca is the door to the next world, so when you die, all energy culminates here, and this is where it is decided what you will be in your next lifetime. There are many stories that are passed on like this when talking to indigenous oaxaqueños. I was most moved and taken by the ritual ceremony of Dia de Los Muertos. Creating an altar involves selecting your loved one's favorite things and deciding what will be offered with that person in mind. On the 31st, they welcome the dead back and it felt that they were among us and that I would at any moment, turning down an empty “callejon”, run into them. The 1st is a familial day depending on where in Oaxaca you are, and then on the 2nd, they say their goodbyes. To have this kind of relationship and reverie for your ancestors and the past is touching because my inspiration to create comes from my ancestors.
2   Is there anything you currently collect and why?
2   I love collecting zines, hand-sewn books, independent editorials, prints, and postcards. I love independent editorials and the art of print. And the postcards — I have all intentions of sending these postcards. I write out a message, but they do not always make it to their destination. I later find them in journals and it makes me happy to reminisce about where I was at that moment in time.

3   What are your simplest pleasures?
3   My simplest pleasures are delighting in the ordinary. I often like to capture these images because of the joy they bring me and what these simple pleasures remind me of. Like linens or sheets hanging on the line outside in the sun, the way they feel once they’re dry, on your bed again. The way it feels to work with my hands. My self-care rituals. Images or symbols that ultimately create a story of who I am and where I come from.
4   What are you curious about learning?
4   I am an avid learner and curious about so many things. I’ve currently been improving my technique and skill in printmaking, but I am hoping to jump into more design: editorial design, woodworking, furniture or architectural design, metal smithing, and jewelry design. I want to do it all.
5   What is a meaningful keepsake you own?
5   A meaningful keepsake that I’ve been carrying with me as I travel are my grandmother’s short stories and my great grandfather’s poetry books, written by him. They are mainly about Nicaragua and his indigenous descendance. These books are first editions and one of them was gifted by an old lover who found one in his grandfather’s library in Managua, Nicaragua. I hope to give them a new life.


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