In my small universe, being an artist is, first and foremost, a way of seeing life. The results can be expressed in diverse ways – while some artists paint, sculpt, or photograph, others share their artistry through teaching, business, or physical movement. In my experience, there are many people with technical mastery of a craft, but relatively few who have this “way of seeing the world”.
This weeks featured artist, Myra Rodriguez, is a photographer. But aside from her technical skill in working with a camera, she has the gift of artistic vision. I was first captivated by an image she posted on our Facebook page which depicted two chairs in a back yard in Texas (Snowy Lubbock). I instantly saw a whole world – a story – and was fascinated to find out more.
Myra’s gift, in my mind, is this ability to capture a story in each image – as if each was embedded with gigabytes of information just waiting to be told. She is a very interesting person who, while not embracing traditional religion herself, shows us a uniquely spiritual outlook on life through her work. “My art”, she told me, “is like a religion to me”.
For all of these inspiring reasons we chose Myra Rodriguez as this weeks featured artist. Please enjoy her work and share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Note: Use the slide-show controls to pause or go to a specific image. Mouse over the images to see details about the artwork.
Professional Photographer, Myra Rodriguez, has been shooting professionally for more than 15 years. Starting very young, Myra’s Images have been seen at Texas Tech University, both the Fine Arts, and the South West Collection, The Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts, Buddy Holly Center, Toronado Gallery, and the Garden and Arts Fine Arts Center. Myra has also won numerous scholastic awards and magazine covers plus several T-Shirt designs. Myra attended the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography class of ’05. Myra has since dedicated her life to imagery, generously filling albums with love and passion.
The Art Marketing Secrets Signature 6 Questions
1. What led you to become an artist?
My father is terminally ill and picked up photography as a way to deal with it. He went from being a roughneck in the oilfields to becoming a fine artist. I witnessed a pending death and a sudden rebirth at the same time. I was only ten years old. Death has become a mainstay in my life. I neither fear it nor run from it, I only accept it and understand it is as basic as it is certain. However, the life that presented itself was completely new and exciting. I watched my father begin demonstrating photography to my brother, and was told that it was for boys only, all the chemicals were really dangerous and stinky. I never stopped watching and eventually did it all by myself. Reading and hiding out in corners paid off because at 14, I processed my own film & developed my own images. And when I presented them to my dad, he said, “I’ve been teaching the wrong kid.” That was 18 years ago. I was able to shoot, and present myself as a professional photographer, while other girls were having quinceneras, I was shooting them. Art saved my Dad’s life, even though he will still die, he started a whole new afterlife for me. Along with the coming of a mourned life, I have a great life, thanks to my fathers disguised blessing. Becoming an artist was the fun part, I shunned religion, excelled in academics, and was highly encouraged in Art. When I say shunned, I mean it in the nicest way possible. I just simply couldn’t accept blind faith, when death was anything but blind. Death and religion are opposites in my opinion. As I stated before, Death is absolute, although inanimate, it will present itself in front of you at some point or another. I highly revere religion, and its romantic notion of the afterlife. I incorporate that longing in my work. It’s pretty heavy Jesus & Family, it’s a beautiful way to believe and live, but when the dust settles, it is still unlikely. Not wrong, just not my answer.
2. What happens for you and what do you feel when you are in the creative process?
I find the light, judge the light, then manipulate it for my vision. I can shoot anywhere and turn it into a dream-scape or nightmare. I don’t do it on purpose, maybe subconscious, but I try to evoke emotion. Sadness, anger, humiliation, humor, happiness, confusion, anything. I do so because that’s what people remember, its what I remember. Like a memory you can’t shake. Or a past life that was only a few years ago. I overcompensate when I create and Love, my two constants in life. I put a lot of pressure, like my life depends on it. I love to see an image that hurts to look at it. Underlying symbolism, religious icons, children, windows, doors, light or lack thereof, an empty chair, or a triggered pain. Things that hurt, even when we don’t really know why it hurts so much. Everyone always remembers what hurts them. All packaged in a beautiful image.
3. What is your favorite piece of your own art and why?
Hands down, “Neon Mary”. It is La Virgen De Guadalupe, lit with red Christmas lights. Unable to see the face or body she is a silhouette of her body seen through her “Jesus” rays. A building in shadow is the background in front of a painfully blue sky. The only colors seen are blue, red and black. The fact that her face is hidden in plain sight is so frightening and calming at the same time. The black building is a buffer between the bright blue sky. The one piece of symbolism that I find humorous is the Antenna on the building. It symbolizes to me what antennas are supposed to do, put things in focus. But we cant see her face!!! Yet she’s there, and is quite powerful. Also the color red, usually held for less than stellar, in religious terms, so it is a farce to see her draped in red. Only symbolically. Otherwise, it makes no difference. Also its not photo-shopped – hardly anything I do is. I have my moments, but mainly all in camera.
4. What would your perfect artist-life look like?
My husband is a muralist, painter, & full time tattoo artist. He makes good, stable money, even in economic woes, people still need their ink. I am lucky enough to not have to clock in and get to stay and raise the boy. I do however, run my own business. Myra’s Images is a complete and total dedication in my life. Along with my husbands business, we are self-sustainable. I love my job, I love the people I photograph, and I love the new people I meet. The only thing I would change as of yet, is the ability to gain trust to break the mold that is “studio” photography. Even “on Location” shoots are starting to look like the others. I offer Fine Art, and would love to change what you expect out of a portrait session. Lets look at your child in a different light, ha, every pun intended. Because, after all, the light is going to change the mood, therefore creating a portrait with Fine Art credibility. I am an artist first and a commercial photographer second. You get the two for one special every time.
5. How are you marketing your art?
Marketing Fine Art is harder because people assume it is too expensive. So I began marketing my prices instead. While I believe that the Fine Art portion of the deal is priceless, I will not charge high prices. A lot of my photographer friends believe that I am just giving it away, and I kinda am, but I am lucky and feel that the least I can to is offer affordable images. In a town where studio sessions are cheap, and higher, more expensive photographers are well, high and expensive, there needs to be a happy medium where “excellence meets affordable”. Not everything amazing in life needs to be expensive. I am self taught with a later education at Brooks Institute of Photography. I know expensive, but where I come from, and I am extremely proud of my little barrio. Fine Art should be available to the masses – not to only those who can afford it. Word of mouth, is helpful, so is volunteering. Not normal charity work, but your own thing. For example, every year I shoot HubCity Tattoo & BikeFest for free, only if they want a CD I charge for the CD only, like wholesale, not art prices. After four years of doing that, I am their go-to photographer and graphic artist. My name is plastered on posters and T-shirts, all because I wanted to shoot for free. I also do my own photo shoots and production is crazy – models, lights, the works, so now when part of the crew wants photos of their family they know where to go.
6. What else are you busting to tell the world?
Support your local artists! I believe creative genius is going to save our economy. Think outside that studio box and trust me when I say this is going to be amazing. Let me find the light, no flash needed, maybe just a reflector or two. TRUST ME.
We invite you to share your thoughts on Myra and her work in the comments below.