Sabrina Zarco is a ChicanIndia queer femme multi-media artist. She is also an activist, poet, cultural worker and community educator.
Her visual artwork, or "artivist work," as Zarco calls it on her website, documents stories often overlooked by mainstream media. With a primary focus on fabric as a base, Zarco also incorporates reclaimed items, bright colors and images of her heritage to bring her pieces to life. Her work, she said, is social justice-based and spirit-led.
Zarco's artwork can be found in public and private collections along with national and international exhibits. She also lists artworks for purchase on her website, including mixed media fiber art wall hangings, paintings, jewelry and clothing.
Zarco takes a selective amount of commissions per year, using an interview process to ensure the client is part of the creative process.
Zarco has previously written about her artistic process for Ofrenda Magazine, a publication exploring Xicanx and Latinx spirituality, earth-centered wisdom traditions and healing arts. Previously living along the border in Mexico, Zarco is now based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Windy City Times talked with Zarco more about her artwork and storytelling methods. The following interview was conducted over email.
Windy City Times: How long does it take you to create your art pieces, on average?
Sabrina Zarco: Time is more about the years of working on my skills than the individual works. I have been publicly exhibiting and selling my work since 1995. If I have chosen to use techniques or materials that are new to me for a piece, it may take more time to execute. Because I work in a variety of art media, I always have more than one work in progress. Some hand embroidery may take up to a year of daily stitchingother works, not as long.
WCT: What is your creative process?
SZ: Once I decide on the topic, I research, document and audition materials to find the best media to express the story. Then, I begin editing and auditing as the work begins to tell the story. The embellishments, painting, writing and hand embroidery and beadwork come after the base is complete. Changes take place throughout the process. I never know what the work will look like until it is complete.
WCT: How does being autistic influence your creative process?
SZ: I don't know what life is like not being autistic. Like being Mexican, it's who I am. I am a queer autistic Chicanaall marginalized groups, so my work is about documenting my walk.
WCT: What inspired your focus on fabric as a base?
SZ: By using a traditional soft textile base, I invite the viewer to consider this traditional form of "women's work" as a venue for harder subject matter, which may consist of social and political reflections of our times.
WCT: Are there stories that have become common themes throughout your work?
SZ: My artwork often reflects who I am, using cultural imagery through the lens of animism, gods, goddesses and creation stories to portray social justice issues in the context of a modern colonized world.
WCT: What was your most recent commission?
SZ: Mayan glyphs hand embroidery for a collector of my work.
WCT: Which piece of artwork has required the most labor-intensive process?
SZ: As a visual storyteller, the process of selecting the story to document is the most labor-intensive part of each work. I must determine how and what materials will best reflect the moment or story I want the work to tell. Each work is physically labor intensive. My work is done primarily by hand: hand painting fabric, hand embroidery, hand beading, hand drawing and hand quilting.
WCT: Do you participate in artist events to discuss your work?
SZ: I spent years as a workshop facilitator, so it's an easy transition to facilitating art workshops. I also present gallery talks. Folks that might be interested may contact me through my website for keynotes, art exhibitions, commissions, installations and workshops.
WCT: What goals do you have for yourself as an artist or for your artwork?
SZ: My work is in museum collections and private collections. It travels the world in exhibitions at universities, social justice museums and galleries and exists online. I see my work as both gift and obligation. As artists before me have done, it is for me to document the times in which I live. In this way I am able to preserve, promote and shine light on stories often left in the margins of mainstream media.
Find more information about Zarco at sabrinazarco.com .