Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I was born in Honduras, grew up a little all over Latin America, and moved to the U.S. ten years ago on my own. I’ve lived in San Francisco for almost seven years.

Creatively, I’ve been primarily focused in painting for the past eight years, but the urge for creating and the arts showed up from an early age. I danced ballet from the age of five, and from there on was always involved in some sort of performance, dance, design, or painting endeavor.


Your current series Siamese is stunning. Could you go into detail about the physical process behind creating works in that series?

Thank you. :)

The process is a build-up of multiple layers. Each Siamese has between four and six layers where the main goal is to get the metal thumbtacks and the acrylic to click into harmony. Overall, the paintings require a full body engagement because I prefer to work on large-scale. It usually happens that the first layers are very flowing and loose; however, as the painting progresses, I notice that I get closer to the surface, like when I’m placing the thumbtacks. I’d say that is the most physically strenuous part of the process (or at least on my right thumb), because each Siamese has up to six thousand thumbtacks. 



If you could pinpoint a theme in your work, what would it be?

Over the past four years, I would say it’s human psychology and how sociocultural factors impact it. Namely, I’m very interested in how our surroundings can have an impact in our perspective in life, our self-identity, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Moreover, I’m interested in exploring how we can create a shift towards more positive thought patterns and outlook in life, despite our environment.


How does your environment influence your work? Where do you draw inspiration from the most?

My environment influences the concepts I decide to work on, as well as the media and colors. For example, the decisions I’m making with colors on the Siamese series have the goal of reflecting the emotional and mental state I have during the period in which I make each piece. 

I try to look at as much art as possible and seek out artists I respect and would like to learn from. That definitely helps me grow and sparks inspiration. However, most of my work has come out of personal experiences and reflections I’ve had during both positive and challenging circumstances. I would say the negative ones have been some of the most inspirational ones because I usually turn to my art as a way to work through problems. 


What's one thing you're proud of yourself for accomplishing creatively? Why are you proud of it?

I’d have to say it’s the Siamese series I’m currently working on. I’ve been working on this body of work for almost three years and it’s sometimes shocking for me when I compare the latest ones I’ve made to the early ones from 2016. I’ve grown and learned so much as an artist, and as a person, since a lot can happen in three years. I’ve done other series I like before, but this is the one where I’ve researched the most, pushed myself to try new things with each new painting, and thought about how the whole series adds up together as one. There are a lot of valuable lessons that have come out of this series which I think are foundational and will help inform future ones I work on. 


Can you remember a recent obstacle that you had to overcome? How did this influence your work?

The main thing that comes to mind that has been challenging, but less of an obstacle, is building up the courage and mental strength to live life on my own terms. This includes making the decision of taking a less conventional path in both my professional life, and in my approach of building my career as an artist. Most importantly, I’ve given myself permission to do whatever I want to do, as long as I do it right. That means striving for excellence, being truthful, doing the math, learning as much as possible, working hard, and pushing outside the comfort zone. I think this influences my work everyday, or at least I intend for it to be the case, but I do recognize it’s not always smooth and easy. 


What has your creative process taught you about yourself? 

A couple of things that I would point out would be that I grow the most when I push myself into the unknown, and that I love color. With the Siamese series in particular, whenever I’ve felt a bit stuck I’ve pushed myself to try something completely new, like a technique or material. It hasn’t always turned out great, but some of the biggest breakthroughs in the series happened this way. On the color part, I’ve always been very drawn to vivid colors. I would say it’s because of my Latin American heritage. However, over the past years, I’ve honed in on that even more and started creating my own colors out of primary colors, black and white. This used to not be the case. I find that I love creating unique colors, finding color combinations that harmonize, and exploring the emotional effects of color. 


What's your biggest goal for the future with your art? Is there anything you're working towards right now?

I’m currently in the final stage of the Siamese series and the plan is to have the exhibition at the end of July this year, in San Francisco. After that, I will begin working on a new body of work which won’t necessarily be related to the thumbtacks technique or to fish. I have a few ideas in mind but nothing too fleshed out since right now my main focus is in Siamese. I would also say I am still in the early stages of exploring materials and mediums, so I know there will be explorations beyond painting down the line. 


As far as long term plans, I strongly believe that art can make the world a better place, and can serve as a universal form of communication. That said, and given my background witnessing how technology can drive innovation within an industry, my ultimate goal is to work at the intersection of art, technology, and social progress.



Check Gabriela out on her website and her Instagram.

And check out her Ten Facts feature here.