Gabriela Mendez and the Miami Art Scene
Gabriela Mendez, a 20-year-old photographer from Miami, Fl, knows how to give you the feels with her art. Her photography is unique and embellished with bright-vivid colors as she is fearless when experimenting with props and lighting. Gabriela’s creative and imaginative themes really do make you appreciate her art. Her already defined style can be easily recognized, something that many young artist struggle to achieve. I sat down with Mendez to talk about the Miami art scene, her influences and what she is working on next.
So where are you originally from, tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Miami, born and raised, but both of my parents are Colombian. My mom is from Medellin and my dad from Cali.
How long have you been taking pictures for?
I’ve been taking pictures since I was 15, so for about 5 years now. I started with the “picnic” editing tool on Facebook so I would mess around with that at first, and then I would bring my camera to school and take candid pictures of my friends. Instagram started gaining popularity at the same time I started gaining an interest in photography, and then I saw all these people doing all these concepts and I got more into the habit of creating different things and exploring other ideas.
Influences? Favorite contemporaries?
When I first started taking pictures, I really wasn’t sure what my style was, but since it’s mad colorful in Miami, I would go around South Beach and find cool spots to take pictures of. Miami has influenced me a lot.
One of my favorite contemporaries is John Yuyi, she makes tattoos out of her own work and tats them on herself, like temporary tattoos. I think that’s a really cool concept to do. Aris Jerome is another artist I came across, he focuses more on portraits.
What does your work aim to communicate?
I want people to feel something. I’m not trying to tell a story, I just want people to feel connected and be like “hey, this catches my eye, this makes me feel this way, etc.” I want to make people stop and look at it. I want them to engage and ask questions.
Do you think your work comments on current social/ political issues?
My work is mainly artistic, when people try to relate it to political issues, it angers me in a way because I’m not trying to tell a story and if I was, you wouldn’t have to ask me. It should be obvious.
You mentioned that the art industry in Miami focuses more on competition rather than collaboration, why do you think that?
I support other local artists, I like to help in any way I can but if I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t like to do art shows with other people because I don’t want to compromise with other artist for them to be telling me what to do. I want something to match my work and sometimes I don’t want to disrupt a friendship out of pure miscommunications with other fellows. If I don’t like your art, I’m not going to be fake to you. I was in a weird situation a couple of weeks ago with this person, I needed a place last minute to throw an art show and this girl I knew said she didn’t want to share the information of this venue because she didn’t want people using it. My friend asked for her permission to rent this venue which got me really mad. In the industry you don’t ask for permission, everybody is on their own. It has become very competitive, people are just selfish. Everybody everywhere throws art shows, we need to support each other.
Favorite thing about Miami?
I used to want to move a lot when I was 17-years-old but now I’m in love with the scenery in Miami. In NYC or LA there’s no colorful walls or streets, in Miami I can just go outside and it’s most likely sunny, so that type of stuff of the Miami scenery is what makes me want to stay all the time.
Upcoming shows or projects?
I’ve been wanting to get more into fashion photography. I like doing portraiture but I want to branch out and do other stuff. In regards of upcoming shows, I’m going to do an art house party for Halloween and then I’m doing an art basel show as well. I am also constantly collaborating with other local art shows.
On Instagram: @gabrielamendezphotography