We had the good fortune of connecting with Ivan Montoya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ivan, how do you think about risk?
I’m going to sound cliché when I say this but to live is to take risk! To challenge oneself by fully embracing risk can result in new experiences, new lessons, and new outlooks. Risk is what enabled me to pursue art full time. If it wasn’t for my father taking risk head on, he wouldn’t have been able to bring my family and I to the United States, where the opportunities for artists are more accessible. If it wasn’t for my Mother leaving everything she knew to raise and support my sister and I in all our endeavors, I may not have seen art as an actual pursuit. For those risks taken, I too embrace risk and all it entails. I’ve learned through example, we can have a direct impact in our path of life by not living in fear of change and choosing to risk the convenience of the known, for the possibilities of the unknown. Often times, comfort can result in complacency and that’s definitely not something I want in my own life. We (humans) are not here for a long time, and I’d like to take on life and squeeze the juice out of it while I’m here! To take on an art career in itself is a big risk, but it’s one that encourages self-reliance, curiosity, and growth. Those are all things I find to be worthwhile pursuits. Risk also forces me to be aware of my strengths and weaknesses, by using my strengths to get me through moments of insecurity while simultaneously working to improve on my weaknesses. The projects in my career where this has been the case, end up being the most rewarding ! Often times I go back to this quote by Marcus Aurelius in regards to change and risk, ” Never let the future disturb you, you will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arms you against the present.”Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Mexican-American painter and muralist who creates imagery that inspires curiosity and questions the viewer’s predetermined ideas. I paint using colors and flavors I grew up knowing, to share them with people around me, and hopefully bring some warmth into their lives. I draw inspiration from my experience with immigration, film, and nature. Immigration has a way of rerouting developing minds’ sense of self and identity. Our identities are shaped by the friction between our social spheres, as the way we’re expected to behave collides with the expectations of our family’s cultural heritage. The resulting spark of identity that comes from this friction marries this fiery and beautiful ensemble of ideas, which acts as the driving force behind my paintings. I represent this chaotic marriage through reactionary mark-making, bold color and old world visual motifs. Specifically, I use folklore and mythology within my work as metaphors to showcase this act of stepping into the unknown in order to achieve growth. I navigate this “in between” by combining design language from traditional Mexican culture with compositions that feel distinctly contemporary and American. I went to art school because I loved drawing, but it opened up my eyes to the processes and possibilities that art can bring and I just fell even deeper in love with making. Through a lot of trying, searching and failing, I come to understand that bringing mystical, flavorful paintings is what gives me the most joy. I’ve also learned that surrounding yourself with people who are motivated, dream big, and look out for your wellbeing is the most valuable thing you can do as an artist. Mentors are huge! Find them, show respect, be grateful. Lastly, Keep making, even if its just for you, keep making. You can only find by searching.Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
ooo I would definitely have to take them to Southwest Detroit, and take them to get some tacos at El Caballo food truck or Los Altos. For some good ‘Za, probably Supino’s or PieSci. I would take them around Eastern Market because of all the great murals including some by Bakpak Durden, Pat Perry, and a bunch of signs painted by Kelly Golden. For more art, we’d go check out the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Maybe have a picnic at Belle Isle, and finish off the day with a drink at either Bronx Bar or Honest Johns. Detroit is full of interesting people, history, and hidden gems.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, my family for their endless love, sacrifice, and support. Secondly, my studio mates deserve a huge shout out. They constantly challenge me to be better, and to create more, and allow me to be the truest version of myself. Without their honest critique, heartfelt discussions, and studio sillies, I don’t know where I’d be, I love all of you at Goldtop.
John Sippel Emad Rashidi