We had the good fortune of connecting with Alejandro Macias and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alejandro, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Brownsville, TX, near the Gulf Coast and along the U.S./Mexico border. I have a background in visual art and after spending the majority of my personal and professional life in South Texas, I moved to Tucson, AZ in 2019 after acquiring a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona School of Art. I believe coming from a marginalized border area, I have been deeply affected by my upbringing as a second generation Mexican-American. In 2016, amidst an important and historical election, I felt compelled to make the socio-political leap and address themes of heritage, ethnicity, immigration, assimilation, identity within contemporary America. I am mostly a figurative painter and draftsman and use the figure as a vessel to constructively address issues that are most important to me. I believe the work itself has made me reflect internally on who I am, while also making me externally aware and empathetic of the people around me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
At the center of my research lies a two-dimensional practice that draws inspiration many Chicanx activists that have addressed issues of identity, repression, civil rights, immigration, and cultural misconceptions. My work is figure based and has been since my initial training as a painter in Brownsville, TX. I’ve learned from countless people since then through academia, exhibitions, art residencies, and my general life trajectory. I wouldn’t say I’m set apart from many artists that I personally know because I acknowledge their contribution to my personal, professional, and artistic life. Carlos G. Gomez, Cesar Martinez, and Vincent Valdez were initial artistic pillars that helped me discover my artistic identity. Other inspiring and important artists I’ve met along the way are Chantal Lesley, Marcelina Gonzales, Jenelle Esparza, Marilyn Montufar, Sama Alshaibi, and Cheyenne Julien, just to name a few. These are artists and women who have empowered me and given me the confidence to do what I do. A life in visual art is challenging, as it demands a great deal of research and commitment, It has been a path littered with rejection and obstacles. I have somehow mustered up the energy to continue despite them. Regardless, I couldn’t be happier to have a life dedicated to painting and drawing. It has been a fulfilling life. I would also like to add, I have an upcoming solo exhibition at the Tucson Museum of Art that opens May, 2021. What I hope to achieve with this crucial and important Tucson debut is to bring to the forefront a variety of trepidations that navigate around my own personal Mexican-American identity, physical and sociological divisions along the U.S. / Mexico border, and the ever-shifting contemporary American political landscape.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since moving to Tucson, AZ, most of it has unfortunately been experienced at home under a pandemic. Before the pandemic I often made visits to Tall Boys and Tumerico for food and SideCar and Ermanos for drinks. I am thankful that Tap and Bottle has been delivering straight to my doorstep. The Tucson Museum of Art and MOCA Tucson are obviously worth the visit. I hope to host friends in the near future and broaden my Tucson experiences in 2021.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are countless people and organizations that have contributed to my success as an artist and person. First and foremost, my parents for initially supporting my path into the arts and Carlos G. Gomez, my mentor and friend who solidified and amplified my conceptual ideas. Next is Chantal Lesley, partner, friend, and artist who has contributed to my growth for fifteen years. I’d like to also thank Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX (Rigoberto Luna and Jenelle Esparza) for furthering my success as an artist. Last but not least, my colleagues at the University of Arizona for believing in what I do.