Photos by Asia Morris.
On a balmy Wednesday evening in the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)’s sculpture garden, artists, creatives and fans alike gathered to hear Miami-based artist Tatiana “Tati” Suarez speak during her first ever live interview.
The event was organized by Pow! Wow! Long Beach, sponsored by Olukai, hosted by MOLAA and moderated by Long Beach-based journalist Sarah Bennett, who posed thoughtful questions about the artist’s background, what it’s like being a woman in the male-dominated realm of street art, how she garners inspiration and incorporates her Miami upbringing, Brazilian and El Salvadorian heritage into her work.
Suarez is responsible for the mural going up on one of the museum’s exterior walls, featuring an alligator and one of the artist’s signature feminine figures. One of the highlights of the interview included learning about the evolution of her female characters and how they’ve become a form of communication with viewers.
“They’re vessels for me to communicate personal stories, emotions, folklore and I’m also really into pop culture […] so I’ve been doing a lot of little water color studies based on female characters from movies that I’m a big fan of,” Suarez said. “They’re ways for me to get ideas and stuff out.”
Her work is also heavily influenced by nature. Having started out painting canvases for gallery exhibits, the next step was introducing her characters to the natural world, meaning getting them out there in mural form where the public could more easily access the work.
Suarez’ mural progress at MOLAA captured on Tuesday.
“For me, my favorite part is when you get to travel to different cities and you want to give something back, so for me I see these women as protectors, or they’re watching over people,” Suarez said. “I want people to see them in this way, hopefully they give someone positive energy, something they need that day.”