Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Oliveira.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Brazil, and my family immigrated to South Florida as economic migrants when I was 11 years old. We were undocumented and I grew up with a feeling of not belonging. Growing up, undocumented was difficult because obstacles were everywhere, even if you worked hard. A hard lesson in this reality was when I won a full-ride academic college scholarship when I was in middle school that I could not use due to my legal status.
Because I could not go to college, I immediately started working. I eventually found my way into working at American Apparel, initially part-time to six years later becoming a district manager. From there, I made the difficult decision to pursue my dream of starting my own business, and that is when Passport Vintage, a vintage store I co-own was started.
I am now the co-owner of Passport Vintage, an Austin-based vintage store. I am lucky to get to manage my time and pursue passion projects and creative endeavors.
Please tell us about your art.
I am the co-owner of a vintage store and am responsible for the visuals and branding of the business. Daily, I am photographing, designing and creating for the shop.
I also partake on limited art projects when the creativity strikes, like when it did for the Marfa Dream. The Marfa Dream, Border Patrol in the Instagram City, is a photo series done in collaboration with Miami based visual artist Sabel Santa which explores the heavy presence of Border Patrol in Marfa, Texas.
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I believe the role of the artist is the same, which is whatever role the artist chooses it to be. People need and produce art for different reasons, to escape, explore, critique, etc. and I think each aspect remains important no matter what is going on.
For my art specifically, it has and likely will always be political because of my personal experiences. My work is heavily influenced by immigration laws and lack of modernization of our current system which hurts a lot of people and keeps families apart. I have collaborated for fundraising to help undocumented youth renew their DACA permissions and produced the photo series in response to the trauma of the excessive presence of Border Patrol.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Exhibition details for The Marfa Dream are still in the works, but there are some outtakes available through my social media channels like my Instagram @Maria4Congress.
Passport Vintage is a concept store, and the shop design was heavily influenced by the French artist Yves Klein. The shop is available for a visit daily from 11-7pm.
- Address: 2217 S 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704
- Website: MariaOliveira.me
- Email: HelloMariaOliveira@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maria4congress/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelloMariaOliveira/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HIMariaOliveira
- Other: http://passportvintage.com/
Photo of Maria Oliveira looking in the mirror by Nina Ho, All other photos by Karen Santa Sabel Lewis and Maria Oliveira