We had the good fortune of connecting with Alejandra Zermeño and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alejandra, how do you think about risk?
Risk is my life partner, as an artist and owner of an art studio I cannot be certain of anything, not even my own creativity, much less my life. I have got used to living always jumping into the void, sometimes I hit myself hard but I always come out ahead of situations. The failures even make me learn more than the successes. I have taken a certain affection for risk, because it makes me expand my limitations.
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.
Since I was 7 years old, my way of communicating and feeling happy was through creating three-dimensional shapes, I sneaked around and rummaged in the cupboard to steal a few cookies that I then dipped with tap water to form a thick dough with which I made figurines, when they were finished I arranged them in such a way that my imaginary audience could appreciate them and of course both they and I could have a feast and eat the works at the end of the exhibition. Already in adolescence there were many signs that my days would be dedicated to creation. At 17, sculpture as a profession and a way of life chose me. I decided to train professionally and I was fortunate to be able to study in one of the most beautiful schools dedicated to the plastic arts in Mexico City, the San Carlos´s Academy of Arts located.There I spent 4 years of my life from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday learning about painting techniques and materials, photography and graphics, I learned to draw with a nude model and to model with plasticine, I was soaked in theory and Art History and I made friends with whom we could spend hours and hours making, talking and living art. The years at the Academy were wonderful, but unfortunately they did not provide me with professional tools to help me live professionally as an artist. My personality has always been a bit impatient and I like to learn, know and do things quickly in order to cover many of my visual and artistic interests. Personally, my academic studies only worked for me to continue studying and later do a master’s degree, but they did not help me to forge a successful professional career in real life. A few years after finishing my university degree in Art, I had saved part of the scholarship received during my studies and survived making videos for events such as weddings, baptisms and first communions, but it was not enough to pay the expenses generated by an independent life, not much less to generate more works. I started looking for income options, I didn’t want to stray too far from creation so I started looking for companies that required artist services, I found that film and television production was divided into specific departments that contributed to the making of the film or audiovisual and one of those departments was that of Special Effects, which is basically made up of plastic artists, designers and creatives who create fictional characters, copies of real characters (mannequins, bodies), blows, wounds, characterization makeup, among other things and each one of them required a sculptor to make them. My first job was in a production house led by only two plastic artists with a lot of talent to solve and manufacture everything they asked for, I suppose they gave me the job because I felt sorry for them, since I arrived telling them that I was an artist and had a university degree But on the first day of work both they and I realized that everything I had learned in school was useless, my methods were out of date and therefore I earned very little and they hardly let me do any of the important work because They were afraid that I would spoil it, I would leave work at 6pm and go to the park and literally cry until my tears were dry, while I was looking for a way to improve, I decided to stay later than departure time to practice and model and practice techniques that I learned from just seeing them, my attitude allowed me to improve quickly and each new creation made outside working hours, I recorded them in a photo and treasured them as the best r teaching of my life. A few months passed and the production house stopped receiving projects, I couldn’t wait because I was already paying rent and the expenses that my life generated. With a folder full of new jobs, I went to get a new job in a special effects production company that worked mainly for Mexican and American cinema, they received me very well and soon after the owner offered me to be the head of the workshop, Many of the projects depended on me and we did many commercials, special events, but especially movies. It was my great school, I learned the importance of the discipline that is needed to create a work, I got to know new materials and processes that the Academy never showed me and that later I incorporated into my own creative process and my personal works and the most important thing was that made me understand that there are specific methods to achieve dreams and materialize ideas. The cinema gave me many tools, but the most important was the Self-Management tool, I realized that nobody cares about your life, projects or dreams more than yourself and that if you don’t do what is necessary to achieve it, it is It is very likely that nobody will do it for you, especially if you did not have direct access to the world of art or to the economic and social media that would allow you to generate your works and pay for your life as an artist. All that experience helped me create a successful life as an independent artist. Since then I have dedicated myself to producing my own work, managing my own art studio and my work has traveled to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Germany, Spain, Tokyo and Istanbul.
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?
First we would take a walk through a beautiful garden called Viveros, after filling our lungs with clean air we would walk through the beautiful streets of Coyoacán and have breakfast in an organic cafeteria, we would visit nearby museums and then take the subway and go to the center of my city where we would visit historical buildings and museums to finish the tour eating in some very good Mexican food restaurant.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Of course my family, my mother always supported me throughout my career, my siblings, also creative and professionals, they have always been by my side. My partner Darío, a very talented and sensitive artist who has helped me sharpen my creative proposal. My cats, one that lived with me 20 years and she knew the whole process of successes and failures in my life and now a one-year-old kitten that accompanies me in the production of my work. Four wonderful patrons and collectors who have believed in me over the years: Jean-Pierre Diehl from France, Loli Izurieta from Ecuador and David Pérez Feregrino from Mexico. And some artists who have inspired me to be more creative every day: Antony Gormley from England, Lisa Congdon and Beth Cavenier from the United States and Wang Ruilin from China.
Photograph by Connie Hurtado Langerenne