JESSICA GUTIERREZ

JESSICA GUTIERREZ

JESSICA GUTIERREZ

JESSICA GUTIERREZ

Empowering women through artistic representation. 

Empowering women through artistic representation. 

Empowering women through artistic representation. 

TEXT Anthony Jones

PHOTOGRAPHY Alfredo Contreras

ARTWORK Jessica Gutierrez

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For her latest body of work, Denver based artist Jessica Gutierrez shoulders the experiences and realities that make up who she is as a person, creating art that is subversive and exciting.  We were able to catch up with Jessica to discuss her art and how through the lens of her own femininity and heritage she was able to create something that is not only special and relatable to herself but also to her audience.

For her latest body of work, Denver based artist Jessica Gutierrez shoulders the experiences and realities that make up who she is as a person, creating art that is subversive and exciting.  We were able to catch up with Jessica to discuss her art and how through the lens of her own femininity and heritage she was able to create something that is not only special and relatable to herself but also to her audience.

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Anthony Jones

Jessica Gutierrez

Creating something tangible like a zine is something that people could consume with interaction, did the approach to creating display work differ from that?

Creating something tangible like a zine is something that people could consume with interaction, did the approach to creating display work differ from that?

Girl Crush was created to serve as a new kind of imagery that reinvented the way the female nude was shown. Like a playboy, it’s something small and tangible that you can keep stored away on a bookshelf or bedside table. But unlike a playboy, Girl Crush is meant to empower women but also provide a new kind of imagery that Playboy’s usual audience isn’t used to. My intentions weren’t for it to get stored away like I feel most zines usually do, I’d hoped that women would revisit the zine in times of encouragement. I hoped women could look at the imagery and be reminded that their body holds power. My main audience for this zine was women like me who felt estranged from their bodies because of misrepresentation in media. But, Girl Crush was also meant for men. As a new representation of the female nude that was not seen in Playboy. The history of the female nude in art was always catered towards the male gaze, which from my understanding was mostly negative. So this was my way to shed a positive empowering light on the female nude. Girl Crush is something to have with you as a reminder of your power. For my works on panel, the mission statement was still the same, but the work was created larger so that it may step into the world of realism. My work is painted realistically in the sense that proportions are correct, shading is life-like and the figures take up space. The ladies painted on the panel were the closest to life size I had gotten which I felt helped make them more relatable when someone viewed them. They took up more space than the works on a paper which to me meant they demanded attention. Because I was painting nudity, which I think is still slightly hard to look at by some, I didn’t want to hide it, meaning I didn’t it to be small and missed, I wanted it to be big! Which is why the change in scale from the zine to the works on the panel was so important. Both are just as significant, but I feel like it helps reach different audiences. 

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There is a lot of things that relate to your ethnicity in this current body of work, what’s the story behind that?

There is a lot of things that relate to your ethnicity in this current body of work, what’s the story behind that?

For this body of work, I really wanted to make sure I had a personal connection to it. In the past, I thought that visually distancing myself from my work would make it more interesting, but as cheesy as it sounds, the more I had a connection to it, the better it was received. In this work, I juxtapose the female nude with an object that is mundane or was normal to me while growing up as a Mexican American woman. My mom was born in Zacatecas and my dad was born in Jalisco. I was born in Colorado. The objects range from a serape, a candle, pomade, and sneakers. I found that using the objects that I connected to, would also bring in an audience that could connect to me much easier.

You showcased this work in front of an audience and you were able to see people’s reaction to it. How was that experience?

You showcased this work in front of an audience and you were able to see people’s reaction to it. How was that experience?

It was so weird but so fulfilling. Being that this work was the most personal work I had ever created I was terrified to hear what people had to say and whether or not the message I was trying to convey, was actually getting through to anyone. It wasn't until 10 minutes before the show opened that I told myself that it didn't matter who related to it, or who understood it, my work was for me. Talking to everyone who approached me was a huge blur. I remember a little girl saying she loved the blanket because she had one like that at home, another man said he loved my attention to detail, and a woman said that her husband used the same pomade. My work was called beautiful, strong, and empowering. Three words that I had hoped I'd hear and that was enough to make my night. Beyond the kind words, I was scared that someone was going to hate it, luckily no one approached me with that. But my attachment to my work I feel has me prepared for people who might not understand it. 

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What about this body of work makes it different than anything you’ve ever created?

What about this body of work makes it different than anything you’ve ever created?

Off the bat, the fact that I can relate to it. A lot of my work a year ago slightly hinted at struggles I was having but it was never really apparent. I was still dealing with the female nude, but I wasn't really focused on what I wanted to say. In middle school, I was so self conscious, I'd been living in a world where a woman's body was degraded to an object of desire. I saw this in social media, television and movies. I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to talk about this in my work but I knew that I wanted to work with the female nude. It wasn't until my second to last semester of college that I was really noticing how my body played a role in the way I saw myself. I was buying  vintage Playboys from for references for my work, when I realized how that kind of imagery actually made me feel. I didn't look like any of them, that's when it hit me that I needed to stop using them as references because I wasn't including women that looked like me! I still used references from Playboy, but gave them a twist that women like me could relate to. I was shifting the male gaze to the female gaze. I was adding more belly fat, shorter hair, and less provocative poses. These elements I believed were what could bring the female nude back to power. 

If people could take away something from your work, what would that be?

If people could take away something from your work, what would that be?

In one sentence; The female nude is more than an object of desire. But in specific- for women; your body is your power. 

MONSTERA-2

Anthony Jones is an Associate Editor for TODAY'S ARCHIVES. 

TEXT Anthony Jones

PHOTOGRAPHY Alfredo Contreras

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