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Marela Zacarías's Great Expectations
How does a Brooklyn artist imagine both her past and future? After a decade of hard-fought accomplishments in New York City, artist Marela Zacarías completes a large-scale project while anticipating the arrival of her first child. Leaving behind a career painting public murals, Zacarías moved to the city hungry for artistic growth, and completed an MFA at Hunter College, shifting her practice towards a more satisfying form of personal expression.
“Grad school put me upside down,” she says, “It really pushed me to find out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. And I’m glad, because now I feel like I can say a lot more things through my own language.” The fruits of Zacarías’s labor are evident in her Bedford-Stuyvesant studio: the artist, along with her husband, Weston Pew, and a team of assistants, are hard at work creating the undulating sculptural and painterly forms that have become the artist’s signature.
The new work—a commission for the William Vale Hotel—reveals the historical evolution of neighborhoods like Williamsburg, where the hotel is currently under construction. Zacarías herself is part of the city’s irresistible collective ambition, having become a full-time artist with a growing studio practice while bringing a baby boy into the world. Like the city she calls home, Zacarías envisions a bright future. “It seems like it’s not going to get slower,” says the artist, “I’m definitely not planning on stopping my work and hopefully get to spend all my time with my baby and seem him grow.”
Featuring the work Mannahatta (2016).More information and credits
Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Director & Co-Producer: RAVA Films. Cinematography & Editing: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Aerial Photography: John Marton. Design & Graphics: Open & Uros Perisic. Artwork: Marela Zacarías. Music: Ergo Phizmiz & Margita Zalite, Jackson F. Smith, Podington Bear & Yacht. Thanks: Colleen RJC Bratton, David Foarde, Katherine Garcia, Emily Mason, Christian Maychack, Coralina Meyer, Drew Miller, Weston Pew, Michael Roopenian, Ray Smith, Mordy Steinfeld, Sean William Sweeney, José Luis Tranche, The Brooklyn Arts Council & The William Vale Hotel. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2016. All rights reserved.
Art21 New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and by individual contributors.
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Marela Zacarías was born in 1978 in Mexico City, Mexico, and currently lives and works between New York and Mexico City. A muralist painter for more than ten years, Zacarías wanted to bring walls into three-dimensional space. Her resulting wall-mounted painted sculptures twist and turn in unruly ways, built from window screens, joint compound, and polymer before being painted in bold, geometric, abstract patterns. Explaining her shift away from figurative painting, Zacarías says, “I feel like abstraction really allows for the story to be filtered and to come out in a different way in which people can see it or not see it at all.”
“Grad school put me upside down. It really pushed me to find out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. And I’m glad, because now I feel like I can say a lot more things through my own language.”