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Breaking into the TV industry is something that countless individuals dream of but only a few actually achieve. The work is demanding and even if you have the talent, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a success. Being a child actor is even more overwhelming because you have to balance an acting career and trying to live a normal life as a kid. Fortunately for actress Marsai Martin, she has the talent and a level-headed attitude rarely seen in an 11 year-old. Whether she’s being interviewed by Conan O’Brien or appearing at an awards’ show, she always shows off her precocious and adorable personality. As one of the co-stars on the hit ABC series Black-ish, Martin certainly isn’t afraid of the limelight or showing the world just how special she is.
Four Words: “Dewy. Magical. Creepy. Sensual.” This is how Tati Suarez describes her work to online art magazine wowxwow.com. We’re not accustomed to hearing words like “dewy” to describe art, but her work as a painter, muralist, and graffiti artist is nothing to sleep on. Art shows that most artists would trade it all to be in, such as Art Basel in Miami and Spoke in San Francisco, California have become basically a second home for the veteran artist. And to some degree that is due in part to the fact that Miami is her actual hometown. She grew up in Dade County of El Salvadorian and Brazilian descent, there was something majestic about her cultural upbringing both ethnically and regionally growing up in the Sunshine State. Tati Suarez’ upbringing included her father’s appreciation for eccentric surrealist painter Salvador Dali and her young mind became exhilarated with her mother’s tales of Brazilian folklore, inevitably creating a born artist, or Artista Nascida in Portuguese, but you don’t need my translation to understand that.
I found myself truly stumped trying to figure out who or what this unique creator’s art reminded me of. I thought maybe it was Japanese Anime, but I couldn’t really see what the relation or connection was there. Then I thought maybe it was the PowerPuff Girls, which was a phenomenon over a decade ago for young girls, and a guilty pleasure for boys in the same age range; however, it still seemed like a far-fetched inspiration. Needless to say, I felt rather silly when I learned that she drew inspiration from her state’s-own national treasure: Disney World and the Disney franchise. In an interview with national syndicate PBS, Tati explained that the women in her paintings are inspired by cartoons, namely Disney and renowned cartoonist Tim Burton.
“Animation gave birth to the big eyes,” as the artist cleverly puts it. Disney may have given birth to the form of the eyes, but I find it more likely that Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim gave birth to the demeanor within the eyes; many of the paintings and murals of the “characters,” as Tati likes to call them, are presented with an unsettling look of seduction. The combination of exaggerated features, namely the eyes, mixed with a look that would leave most men spellbound, makes for art that stands alone among new contemporary art. Though fairly young, this ingenious artist is far from new to the world of art, and her story differs from many of her counterparts.
Though Tatiana Suarez grew up in Miami, Florida her Central and South American heritage played a major factor in her upbringing and her eventual career path as an artist. The multicultural artist’s father is of El Salvadorian descent, and dabbled in the arts a bit: “doodling alongside him and watching him experiment and create, peaked my interest at a very young age,” she explained to wowxwow.com. Interestingly enough, it is the indigenous people and culture of her mother’s home country of Brazil and the Amazon that Tati gravitates to; there are symbols such as humming birds, creepy insects and tropical plants native to the Amazon rainforest that are prevalent throughout her work. “I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember,” Tati admitted, “that, or pretty much anything involving being surrounded by animals.”
It was clear that even a young Tati was quite sure of her future endeavors, and this mentality cultivated despite any formal training in art, as she simply excelled and progressed in art classes offered in school. “Art classes are the only classes I was interested in in school, and I did good at, and it’s just something I kept going,” the artist said rather candidly speaking with the media of Levi’s: Shape What’s To Come at Art Basel. The honesty is funny and refreshing, however I think there is something to be said about someone finding their passion so early, but by the time the young visionary began her first semester of college she’d stopped drawing and had to put the art dreams on hold, sort of. As a graphic design major at the University of Miami, Tati found herself pursuing a variation of her real passion, and that was simply not good enough. By her senior year she found herself painting again, and after working a year in advertising the heart ultimately won the battle against the brain. Her heart has been leading the way since, and now her work is coveted all across the country.
The thoughtful artist had the esteemed pleasure of representing the city of Miami in a Reebok Classic art-fashion collaboration, and the painting created as a result of the collab is probably my favorite of all of her work. Frankly, the painting is not overly complicated with imagery that you have to attempt to decipher with both sides of your brain. Reebok, as it is named, keeps with the very vibrant color schemes of many of Tati’s paintings with champagne pink, fuchsia, and navy blue coloring the sky and bright beige moon representing the Miami nightlife. “My South Florida walls are heavily influenced by the ocean”, Tati explained to WLRN.org, with neon and South-Beachy color palettes.” Though this specific painting is not a mural I believe she would say the same for all of her Florida-inspired work, including Reebok. The city’s outline is a glowing fluorescent blue reminiscent of lights at a Miami lounge or club. There are several palm trees in the scene and they particularly catch your eye, because it is not depicted as an actual earthly colors of a tree but rather a magenta color and shaped like a crab. The lady in the photo embodies everything that is Miami; ethnically ambiguous, tattoos, and an alligator wrapped around her body to represent not only the University of Florida Gators but the dangerous lifestyle that is easy to get wrapped into in the party city. The tattoos on the lady’s body include an orange, a flamingo, and also the 305 Miami area code. Reebok exhibits so much Miami pride it makes you wish you were from the city or, at the least, visited and became familiar with everything that it is: exciting, searing, frightening, and irreplaceable.
One of Tati’s more recent mural’s is entitled Guide Me Home with fellow artist Yoskay Yamamoto. It is a tantalizing mural featuring Tati’s signature marble-eyed woman peering over an ocean of water with the water only revealing the eyes of the woman. This particular mural features several different shades of blue including the ocean blue water, the blue hair of the woman, and even a blue whale that seems to be irritably staring at the woman. It is interesting to note that the whale is not easily discernible as it blends in with the water; and there’s a boat resting on the top of the head of the whale which is puzzling. However, in comparison there is a lighthouse and house sitting on the top of the woman’s head and on the side of her head is a vertical sign that is common to see outside of a store along a boardwalk. The mural is very interesting, leaving many questions like why is the woman’s head considerably larger than the whale? “I love that a mural can immerse a viewer, disrupt their committee, offer strength, and even change the present outlook of someone’s day.” Tati’s sentiments when speaking with wowxwow.com that seem particularly true in regards to Guide Me Home. My theory is that Tati and Yamamoto were trying to allude to the large influence of man in all areas of earth, including the oceans. The whale is glaring at the woman as if to say you are in my personal space, and the woman’s head is bigger to show the larger influence people have on the oceans than even whales, the oceans largest animal.
When I observe Tati’s art I see different features in each of the women she draws that causes this character in all of her work to be even more of a conundrum. For instance, her oil painting entitled Venenosa is a creepy depiction of snow white biting the venomous apple. It is an eerily cold painting that would be most fittingly displayed at an art exhibit taking place on October 31st. Her 2015 painting Creature features a frightening sea monster and a woman that resembles pop star Katy Perry being abducted by the creature. It puts me in the mind of the cartoon Scooby Doo as it is a perfect blend of scary and comical. Several of Tati’s paintings feature a woman that appears to be multi-talented singer and actress Lady Gaga, with the painting Sirena (Pulpo) standing out among the others. The woman seems to be underwater looking over her shoulder with an octopus surrounding her as if it is giver her an embrace. Her hair is shades of yellow and orange, but predominantly magenta, and a sea anemone sitting in her hair.
The paintings are beautiful, and with an hare of familiarity from the creative illustrations in the likeness of celebrities Tati has created her own lane in visual arts by staying true to what she loves. There is a distinguishable quality in visual artist that separates them from being an athlete, or even a musician; whereas those forms of art are seen favorable to the young, being a visual artist can be the work of a lifetime. A good example of that is legendary artist Pablo Picasso who constantly reinvented his style and remained enthusiastic about creating art until he died at 91 years old.
Tati Suarez is about a third of that age, and even with 20 plus years of experience under her belt she still luckily has so much more to accomplish. “I’m still discovering where my art is going”, Tati humbly admitted in an interview with South Florida media syndicate WLRN. There is a certain level of self-awareness that all the great people in life develop as they reach new levels of success in their life’s work. The artist simply known as Tati is no different. Much of the Florida-based artist’s work features aquatic creatures and figures, a love that naturally bred from coming up in Miami. Scientists believe much of the life in the deep depths of the sea has yet to be discovered, and the same can be said about the feats of this amazing woman who was born an artist.
-Terrence D. Burruss
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