INTERVIEWED BY HALLIE DONG
Ms. Victoria Villasana was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is a textile artist and is interested in “history, culture and how people relate to each other in a fragmented post-digital world.” She weaves together textiles and photos to create art pieces which combine aspects of her culture to modern day art. Ms. Villasana currently resides in Mexico and England.
What inspired you to start making art?
Back in Mexico, I was always in a hallway (at an art gallery); I was always doing something on the side. I started to experiment with different things. For example, before I was doing this (job as a textile artist) I worked in the fashion industry in London. I also did floristry as well, I was making collages, and experimenting with different techniques. This helped me to develop a combination of photography and textile skills. The textile part comes from my Mexican background because Mexico has a very strong tradition and history in textiles, so I think that came through my DNA.
Where are your parents from, and what languages did you grow up speaking at home?
My parents are from Mexico as well, so I grew up speaking Spanish.
Are there any holidays that are special to you, and how do you celebrate them?
Probably the most special one, especially the one here in Mexico, would probably be The Day of the Dead, which is the celebration of honoring our ancestors. It’s a very spiritual celebration, and it’s very important here in Mexico and is part of our culture and history. I guess you know, it’s like the typical Christmas holiday— it’s nice because you get to get together with your family, and it’s a nice time to have gratitude! I also like to celebrate a small, cultural ceremony sometimes, and these two things are the two main celebrations that are my favorite ones.
Were there any fairy tales and/or childhood stories you grew up hearing?
In Mexico, there is a story—in England they call it something different—when you lose your teeth when you are young, kids in Mexico are told by their parents to leave their tooth under their pillow, and when you do that, there is a mouse with a special name, who takes the tooth and leaves you a coin or money, or even candy. It was a nice story for when I was a kid, because it made me really excited to lose my tooth. I think that in England it’s called the Tooth Fairy, except in Mexico it’s a mouse.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love it! I can be my own boss, I love that I can work whenever I want to; it’s very free- I don’t have a set time or schedule. If I want to work in the morning or late at night, I can do that. I like the process of working with the textiles and working with the colors, it’s all very calming for me. It makes me connect with my inner child, and it makes me really happy to create; creativity for me is a really beautiful tool to translate a lot of my emotions. I love the textile part and the combination of colors, and how free it is.
Have you ever been treated differently because of your culture or race?
No, not really. Although I’m sure there are people who have gotten discriminated against because of their cultures or beliefs, most of the time, all the people that I have met are more than often curious about me. There could be a little bit of misunderstanding, or not enough information about my culture in Mexico: what they hear in the news is often negative— violence and things like that. Mexico is a culture that has a lot of very great traditions, values, and things like that. Sometimes you just need to remind people that for every culture there is a positive side and a negative side, and it’s very important. It’s what I try to show with my art: the traditional and cultural parts of Mexico, and how they are very rich and colorful. But in general, I don’t think I have experienced any negativity, fortunately.
When going back to your country to visit, do the people there treat you differently?
No, not really. I used to feel a little bit like an outsider, though, because I lived 15 years in England, and when you move outside of your country for such a long time, you don’t feel English, but then you don’t feel Mexican, either. It’s weird because you become an outsider, seeing things through a screen, and sometimes I would feel a little bit disconnected. But now, after coming back to live in Mexico, and reconnecting again with Mexico and with my family and friends has been amazing, and reminded me more of who I am. But no, people don’t really treat me differently.
Tell us about one of your favorite pieces of art!
Whenever people ask me this question, it’s really hard to answer because it’s almost like—it sounds really negative, but it’s like I’m never really satisfied with my work, but it’s more like every time I finish the piece, I have this feeling that I know I can do better. I like the work a lot, and enjoy the process and everything, but I never feel like what I’ve created is the best thing I’ve ever made. I think for me, I’m more interested about the process, like my technique improving over time. I like to see the process and the improvement of my technique, and for right now I enjoy bigger pieces in canvas, but for me it’s about enjoying everything that I put out there, but I’m not 100% thinking that it’s the best thing in the world. There is always a part of me that wants to do better, and better, and better.
What would you like to see in your country's future?
I would like to see more understanding, more people that are open to conversations, rather than just fighting one another. When we start to open up to other people’s perspectives, we can find a middle ground for things, where all of the different perspectives can benefit from. I think that historically, we have been in a constant loop of projection, or trying to make another person or community to think exactly like we do, and I think we need to move past that and start to listen to each other more, rather than fighting and keeping our minds closed. When we start to open up, we can start to see that at the end of the day, we all want similar things.
Thank you so much, Ms. Villasana! You continue to inspire me and countless others, and it was fascinating to hear about your perspective and your personal story.
Check out Ms. Villasana and her work at https://victoriavillasana.com/