Photo of Abby Aceves in her Los Angeles studio. Courtesy of the artist.
Step into the vibrant world of Abby Aceves, the Los Angeles-based self-taught painter whose artistic journey unfolds with captivating depth and resonance. Born in 1985 in Nogales, Sonora, México, Abby's work seamlessly weaves her Mexican roots with a profound commitment to social engagement, giving voice to the experiences and struggles faced by women and the LGBTQ+ community in Mexico.
Armed with a B.A. from Superior Fashion Center Edith Martin in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Abby's path meandered through the fashion industry with her own label in Guadalajara before taking a transformative leap into the realm of fine arts upon her relocation to the USA. Her fashion expertise now intricately merges with her canvas creations, where textures and colors become the palette for her storytelling.
In Abby's artistic realm, the female figure takes center stage, predominantly women of color navigating the nuanced spectrum between empowerment and vulnerability. Figurative elements, symbols, and evocative compositions serve as her language, eloquently conveying contemporary Mexican culture. Each character within her compositions possesses a distinct personality, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in a world where art transcends observation, becoming a deeply cultural and personal experience.
In this exclusive interview, Abby Aceves opens up about her artistic journey, offering insights into her creative process and the inspirations that breathe life into her canvases. As someone deeply committed to introducing you to new artists, I'm happy to put Abby on your radar.
Your artistic journey has taken quite a unique path, transitioning from the fashion industry to fine arts. How has your background in fashion influenced your approach to painting and other artistic mediums?
My journey through fashion and fine arts has definitely been a harmonious integration. The fusion of these experiences has resulted in a unique artistic perspective, heightening my awareness of how colors, textures, forms, and volumes can evoke emotional resonance to create a visual narrative and evoke certain moods or feelings. This integration has woven itself into my artistic process, influencing how I conceptualize and execute my paintings. The fast-paced nature of the fashion industry imprinted a sense of innovation in me; this mindset has always encouraged me to experiment with different mediums in my art pieces.
Abby Aceves, "La Tierra Que Arde" (2023). Oil, epoxy clay on panel. Courtesy of the artist.
What does your work aim to say? What are the major themes you pursue in your artwork?
My work is deeply rooted in my Mexican background and heritage, as well as a commitment to social engagement. I allow my memories to naturally inhabit a space in my creativity without imposing a forced narrative. One of the central themes in my work revolves around women's rights. Being born in Mexico, a country ranked as the second highest for femicides in Latin America, and having personally faced the challenges of being a woman living in constant fear of disappearing due to violence, I feel an urgent need to share my experiences and the struggles confronted by women and the LGBTQ+ community in Mexico. Infused with strong cultural symbolism, my work resonates with many in the Latin community who can relate to these issues. This is why I am compelled to voice these problems through my artwork.
Abby Aceves, "Cara de Artesanía Mexicana" (2023). Oil, cold wax and epoxy clay on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
As a self-taught artist, what challenges have you faced along your artistic journey, and how have you overcome them?
I've faced numerous challenges, and it seems like more may come my way, lol. I guess it's all part of the ride and a fantastic opportunity for growth. From grappling with technical issues, like learning the intricacies of different mediums and how they react on different surfaces, to navigating the complexities of approaching galleries and discerning if my art aligns with and is appreciated by them, it's been quite a journey. In all honesty, I might be a somewhat impulsive artist, often diving into things without giving them much thought. When I began my art journey, I had no idea what I was doing, yet I still submitted my work and knocked on doors. Even now, there are times when I'm uncertain about what I'm doing, and the outcomes surprise me. I often find myself looking at my work, thinking, "Wow, did I really create this?" I must mention the incredible friendships I've formed within the art community; my friends have played a vital role in helping me develop my skills by offering advice and guidance when needed.
Interconexion" (2023). Oil on canvas and chaquira beed flowers. Courtesy of the artist.
What does a typical day in your life as an artist look like? Could you walk us through your daily routines and rituals?
A good day for me begins with a morning walk alongside my dog Tomás, soaking up some vitamin D from the sun. Following that, I prepare a fresh cup of espresso to energize myself and gear up for the day's work. Creating a clear and uncluttered workspace is essential for me. My OCD can't tolerate a crowded environment; everything needs its own space to breathe, just like I do. Once my workspace is organized, and, most importantly, I have a good playlist ready, I dive into my work. I prefer to tackle several pieces simultaneously, finding it to be more productive and helpful in preventing my mind from feeling overwhelmed by focusing on a single piece. My night vision is not the best, so I've discovered that working during daylight hours allows me to better appreciate and articulate the nuances of my art.
Abby Aceves, "Autonomía," (2023). Oil, wax and epoxy clay on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Upon discovering your art on Instagram several years ago, I've closely followed your evolving career. I've been particularly intrigued by your recent works, where you skillfully incorporate a tactile frame that extends beyond the confines of the canvas. A striking example is seen in your self-portrait, "Autonomía," adorned with clay spikes encircling the canvas. Could you share the inspiration behind this innovative and tactile approach to your artistic expression?
The initial exploration of three-dimensional mediums in my artwork began with a piece titled "Ceiba," inspired by the tree known for its spikes. Upon completing the painting, I sensed a desire to further develop the piece, leading me to the idea of incorporating actual spikes. This decision not only added a tangible and interactive dimension to the artwork but also emerged as a creative solution influenced by practical considerations. The fact that framing costs are relatively high here in L.A. played a pivotal role in this decision. Recognizing this financial constraint, I found an opportunity to enhance the piece while simultaneously addressing the presentation aspect, and the result was a more dynamic and engaging piece that resonated with the raw and tactile elements inherent in the subject matter.
Abby Aceves, close up of "Ceiba" (2023). Oil, wax & epoxy clay on panel. Courtesy of the artist.
Oil paint seems to be your central medium, but you've also ventured into epoxy clay, epoxy resin, and cold wax. Can you share the significance of these materials in conveying your artistic vision and how they contribute to the overall narrative of your work?
For half of my life, I lived with my grandmother in a quaint, rustic house that resembled more of a ranch with tons of animals and plants. The rich experiences of this unique living environment have significantly influenced my artistic endeavors. While my artwork explores nature themes, I felt compelled to infuse them with a raw and authentic personality, mirroring the essence of nature itself, and these materials helped me achieve this.
Abby Aceves, "Ceiba" (2023). Oil, wax & epoxy clay on panel. Courtesy of the artist.
If your artwork could have a soundtrack, what songs or musical genres do you think would best capture the essence of your creative spirit?
Tiempo Transcurrido album by Café Tacuba, without a doubt!
Final question: if you could acquire any piece of art (from a dead or living artist, could be off-market in a museum, etc.), what would it be and why?
Oh my, this is a hard one; there are so many incredible pieces that I'd love to own! But if I had to choose, I'd say "La Ofrenda" by Saturnino Herrán (click here to see image). I truly believe he's the best Mexican artist ever.
Abby Aceves, "La penca" (2023). Oil on Panel. Courtesy of the artist.
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