Inside the Studio

Alejandra Zermeño

Favorite material to work with?
My favorite materials are resin and threads. The first material gives me the structure I can work on. The second material is very precious to me. I use thread in my work because I love to draw; so I think, poetically, thread is like extracting the line from the paper. I can manipulate the thread with my hands and it becomes like a line in a sculpture.

What themes do you pursue?
My essential theme is human behavior. My work is about how the human being can construct their own personality through the memories ≈(even genetic memories), the objects, cloths and knowledge they recollect in life, and how their bodies and actions respond to these events.

How many years as an artist?
I can remember myself knitting and drawing and doing some sculpting at 11 years old. But it’s probable that I consciously started at the age of 17. I’m now 34 years old, so about half of my life has been dedicated to art.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Only three words: Discipline, work, and perseverance.

Where is your studio?
In Mexico City. The neighborhood is called La Obrera (The Worker), and is close to the Historical Center. I call my studio ODDA, which stands for Obrera Distrito De Arte (Obrera District of Art).
At the beginning of the 20th century, big fabric factories were established here, bringing workers along with it. With the crisis [very poor standards of labor and deplorable working conditions in the factories], and the 1985 earthquake, most of the neighborhood and the people disappeared. The government rebuilt the city in some places, but those big buildings that once were factories are still in ruins, so it’s fascinating to walk on the streets and see these abandoned places, like a big twisted monument to the history of the place. The streets are like an old Mexican town: full of colors, good people, and lots of stimuli.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Music when I’m working, silence when I’m reading, writing, or studying.

Where can we find you outside the studio?
In the movie theatre, in the park, at art exhibitions, at home, and on the weekends eating in good restaurants.

What’s around the corner from your place?
There’s a world of inspiration around the corner. Every morning, a guy with a fruit and vegetable cart starts to peel the fruit and put them into little containers; the colors and the smells are beautiful. Mangos, papayas, pineapples, carrots, cucumbers with lemon and, of course, chili powder. On the other corner there’s a very old store where paper flowers are manufactured. Right in front of it is a printing house that fills the ambiance with the sound of the machine and the smell of ink. There´s also a big place where they sell all kinds of paper. My neighborhood fits my body, my soul, and my creativity.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
Maybe a cook, with my own vegetarian restaurant.

Day job?
I have only one job: create and produce my artwork. My schedule is very tight– I work from Monday to Friday all day long. Even in the afternoon, on weekends and holidays; with friends or at home I’m always thinking about art. When I take a walk, I’m always looking for materials, forms or inspiration. I live for and from art.

What do you collect?
Different kinds of materials, tools, papers, fabrics, wools, images, memories, and experiences for my work. Also recipes and plants.

Favorite contemporary artist?
Antony Gormley and Cindy Sherman.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
A big Cindy Sherman oil.

Moto tool is the best!

Ever get hurt “on the job”?
Mine is a very risky job. My accidents happen outside of the studio, never inside. I´m more fragile in real life.

Outsourcing or handmade?
Both, but I enjoy doing things by myself.

Is bigger better?
Not necessarily; it´s more like, the more details the more beautiful.

Koons or Hirst?