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Meet Jasmine Zelaya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Zelaya.

Jasmine, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always been a maker of things. It began as a child, drawing, painting and sewing scraps of my old clothing together.  I have been fortunate that my mother really nurtured this creativity, as she too was a creative individual. I was fascinated by ancient art and relics, and my mother would take me to some of the museums around houston.  These visits to the museum made a lasting impression on me. As I got older, I spent even more time drawing and painting. I carried around a sketchbook everywhere I went. As an extremely introverted teen, drawing in my sketchbook helped me sort out my ideas, and was really therapeutic for me.

My senior year of high school, I was awarded a full scholarship and travel to The Oxbow School, an intensive semester-long art program in Napa, California. It was there that I really grew as a young artist. The experience was the catalyst for my decision in pursuing the arts professionally. From there, I attended the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, MO, where I majored in painting and earned my BFA. In art school I painted with oils, embroidered paper and textiles and began woodworking, creating tiny wooden word sculptures.

After college, I was awarded a studio residency through the Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project. In the following years, I began teaching art to youth, creating and facilitating art programming for a local art center and gallery that catered to low-income families. From there I began my career in librarianship, developing art and literacy-based programming for youth and teens. During my years in KCMO, I participated in an interactive performance art collective, fabricating sets and props. The work I made for this performance art collective was featured in venues in Malmo, Sweden, Deitch Projects in New York, and the Bemis Center for Arts in Omaha Nebraska.

In the months before I moved from Kansas City back home to Houston, I put myself through what I called an “Art Bootcamp”, by signing up for several figure- drawing and ceramic classes. It was at the Kansas City Clay Guild, where everything began to come together for me. I was incredibly productive and connected with the material and began feverishly making work.  It was one of the happiest times of my life!

When I moved back to Houston in the summer of 2013, space was an issue, so I began making small gouache paintings on paper. I was again extremely productive as I began to reacquaint myself with my hometown. That year I made a goal to be more ambitious with my art, and I began submitting to various open calls and participated in group shows. Around that time, I received word that my painting, “Twins” had been selected by Art Blocks Houston and the Weingarten Art Group to be displayed on the Main Street Marquee, a billboard-sized installation on the exterior of the Main Street Market building in Downtown Houston.

Soon after, I found out that three of my paintings had been selected for publications in “New American Paintings”, a national art publication, and that my painting “Fan Boys” had also made the cover. These two achievements were really monumental to me. Since then, I have continued to push myself, creating more complex imagery and media. My first installation “Neither Here Nor There” recently opened at Box13’s Window Box in Houston’s East End

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Art School left me feeling kind of lost. It took a long time for me to get out of that rut. During that time I found other ways of creating.

Professionally, I began creating and facilitating art programming for youth and teens for the public library system in Kansas City. I developed programs around things that were of interest to me at the time. I fulfilled the need to make, through my programs, which were focused on fiber arts.

Around this time, I began obsessively free-form knitting and crocheting wearables for myself and those close to me. I reveled in the process, a labor of love, and the functional wearables that resulted.

Space has always been a challenge, and I’ve had to find solutions for what I needed. I’ve recently moved into a house with a second bedroom dedicated as my studio space, and am now happily in the beginning stages of making large scale paintings.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am a visual artist based in Houston. I create mixed media paintings on paper that focus on beauty, race, gender, and identity.

I am a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and received my BFA in Painting in 2006. I was awarded a residency through the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2008. My work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., including in association with the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Deitch Projects. I was the cover artist for New American Paintings West Issue  #132. My painting “Twins” was on view on the Main Street Marquee, a billboard- sized installation displayed on the exterior of the Main Street Market building in Downtown Houston.  Most recently, my artwork was requested for use on set for the filming of TV show that has just wrapped production and is set to air on a major network in the next few months. Currently, my installation “Neither Here nor There” is on view in the Window Box at Box13.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as my level of productivity, clarity and reaching of personal goals. If I’m productive, and making work that I feel is strong, that’s when I’m the happiest.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo by: Brenda Edith Franco
Styling by: Vida Antigua

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