A few years ago, myself a few friends had the priveledge of connecting with Marthalicia Matarraita at a fundraising event in Washington Heights. Besides the art, the love of community and energy Marthalicia Matarrita shared was something that stood out to us. Since then, I have had the privilege to remain connected as well curate some events with Marthalicia. In a time where visual art is undervalued, it is important not to forget that the visual artists who add culture, integrity, value, and work within the community often sacrifice capital gain to share their art. However, visual artists should still be given the same platform, voice and exposure as musicians, actors, and the reality television part takers via the platforms who advertise culture. Support art in general, but try your best to always support local art and artists endeavors. Check out the Q&A with Marthalicia below as she shares insight about Mediums, Influences, Spirit Animals and more.
What is your name, where are you from and where do you currently reside?
My name is Marthalicia Matarrita, and i’m from Harlem New York City.
How has Harlem influenced your Art?
Oh my yes ! Growing up here i was able to witness many harsh living conditions through my own life and those of my neighborhood. Harsh is such a gentle word to describe the drug wars , homicide and gang related teens. A lot of the youth during the early 90’s were either sexually active and had no real jobs, so poverty played a heavy role; in saying this , the need to find a way to cope through this madness, was through art. Harlem had one special magic place that kept me away from the real world and it was the HARLEM SCHOOL OF THE ARTS . There I was able to connect with myself through colors, ideas and design.
Can you tell us about the about the first time you created and knew it was a major component of your being?
It was an organic formation of realization to KNOW that art was for me. Throughout school life, elementary and Middle School, I didn’t know what I wanted to become. School experience was a struggle because english was not my strongest suit, and learning the basics was a bit challenging. I knew I like nature and I was leaning on that idea for a short while. Through this experience as well, I always doodled in my note books while in school. Sometimes I will pick up comic books that my brothers would lay around the room, and just view each page with awe.
Then there was a time where I had to select a high school that corresponded to the needs of the youth, and I still was indecisive.
The magic that lead me to art goes as follows:
One Sunday, I left the Homeless shelter and walked a few blocks to my church. The Priest had the usual discussions but this day was very special. He told of a story called PARABLES, where he described how Jesus Christ gave fisherman a “gift” kinda like seashells during that time. And told them he shall return. Overall the story goes where each gift was a metaphor as to how each person utilizes the “gift” and that’s when it dawn on me, that I too had something very special and it was drawing, or art. From that day on, I prayed and said my thank -yous .. and focused on my art career ever since ! Then I was able to dive into the High School I wanted which was LaGuardia High School of Performance and Arts.
What message are you trying to convey with your art?
Currently: im working on replying a message of awareness : that unifying with that of other living beings , we all ca help heal our present and our future. In doing so, i often create people with animals.
What artists past or present do you draw inspiration from and why?
In the past these were my heavy hitters: Salvador Dali, Frida Khalo, Francois Beacon, Gustav Clement.
Are there any boundaries you have or subjects you refuse to work with ?
Sex, violence and evil things.
You often paint live and that is such a difficult task, it is something I admire greatly. To have the ability to be free in the moment with everyone’s eyes on you. It seems like one can get very distracted while trying to remain in the moment and verbally communicate with everyone around you.
What are some key elements of creating a great piece of art while painting live?
I take Live Art Experiences as one like being in an art studio. Music is highly important! Good lighting, and the vvib around me is positive and wonderful!
What is the most challenging aspect of live painting in front of an audience?
Drunk folks trying to talk to you, snag on your clothing, and yelling in your ear !
What is the most interesting experience you have encountered while painting live?
Having children paint live with me at the very same canvas ! that was so awesome !
What are major differences of painting live verse being at home or alone in the studio?
“Energy”. I find the chemistry of traveling and being around people is very different from being indoors by yourself.
What is your favorite medium to work with and why?
Drawing with pen, ink and markers are my first go to tool, then follows with acrylic and then spray cans in that order. It’s a lot easier to pick up and create. Acrylics
I adore but you have to have a place to set up shop. Spray is fancy … need any surface but you can amplify your drawings into a much larger scale.
Who and what are your biggest influences as an artist?
Good vibes, good people and music.
How has your style evolved since you first started painting?
As I look back I can see how my art evolved. Started from a comic book feel, then transformed into social issues and now global or environmental. Techniques has sharpened in drawing and the speed as well.
Is there a specific subject you find yourself gravitating to and why ?
For now the drawing is my graphic design or classical rendering with that of exploration with animals.
What is your spirit animal ?
Time plays a major role in everyone’s lives, is there any specific time of the day of the day you work best and if so why do you feel that way?
I used to have any given moment of inspiration to make art, now that I am a mother of 2 boys, it’s a bit harder to squeeze that art making. I often find myself sneaking around at night to the kitchen or in the bathroom ha ha ha .. but once I paint live I can be a more looser in making a piece become a well developed work of art
Are you ever disappointed in your work? What do you do with it?
Oh many of times, which then I buff the piece and start over on top of the older work. Sometimes if it’s paero of work I cut and reglue pieces onto another.
Is there ever a time when you create something that feels to intimate and personal and you feel reluctant about sharing it?
YES, a lot my paint that i held in the depth on my soul I try to confront them by making them become real into pieces. It’s a healing process that I am now embracing.
It is pretty awesome that you draw pieces on random canvases at various restaurants and locations throughout the city and leave them as gifts. What inspired you to draw on and leave them behind for people?
Would you mind sharing some words of wisdom about taking risks and not playing it safe for upcoming artists?
When you have that monumental inspiration to do something, that have been playing in your heart or soul. That moment where it repeats itself, that means it’s time to make plans to make your ideas, action become true. The risk is scary. But conveying that you CAN do it … can be harder to believe .. BUT YOU CAN DO IT!
We thank you so much for taking time out your life and sharing with us. We have been fans of your work for some time now and are honored.
Oh my goodness I am so delighted ! I do appreciate you for inviting me to your venue, it’s very inspiring to help other in a unique way! Thank you for doing what you’re doing !
Any last words of inspiration you would like to share?
Sometimes is hard to see or feel what the Great Design has in store for us all, and in time with honesty, one can learn to see all the miracles that comes into embracing gifts . It can be a gift or listening or sharing even organizing, not necessary an ability that its extraordinary. Whatever it is that you are very good at, embrace it , and do not allow anyone or situations to hold you in a place where you might feel some regrets ! Learn to listen to your INTUITION.