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Maria Zamora
Honors, Interdisciplinary Visual Arts

Venezuela, my home country, has always been the main source of inspiration for my work. My art at first was inspired by the vibrant colors and the beauty of the Venezuelan landscapes that surrounded me while growing up. Due to the escalating socioeconomic and political crisis in Venezuela, it became increasingly difficult, however, to focus only on the country’s natural beauty. Eventually Venezuela’s situation became so intolerable I was forced to leave.

The crisis in Venezuela continues to worsen. Severe shortages of medicine and food, hyperinflation, urban violence, and a corrupt totalitarian government have forced millions of desperate Venezuelans to emigrate in search of a better life. It is estimated that more than 4.6 million Venezuelans fled the country, which is unprecedented in Latin America’s history for a country with no war.

I propose to represent in this charcoal and graphite drawing the consequences of mass migration, represented as a desolated and abstract Venezuelan cityscape in the background. A high contrast image of an enraged armed guard is juxtaposed over the swirling streets. The violent figure that takes over the foreground of the drawing is inspired by a photograph taken in 2017 of a National Guard firing at protesters during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela. During these protests many Venezuelans leave the safety of their homes to protest against the injustices and hardships they are forced to endure as part of their daily lives. Whenever these demonstrations take place, protesters usually end up being brutally repressed by the armed forces and militias. I hope to use the power of visual arts as a means to raise awareness and portray the ongoing disastrous reality in Venezuela.

I am originally from Mérida, Venezuela, and that is where I began to pursue my interests in visual arts at the Universidad de Los Andes. Shortly after starting my studies, my family and I became concerned about my future in Venezuela due to the worsening economic and social crisis. The last years I lived in Venezuela were very challenging, but the struggles I faced there became a major source of creativity. I eventually made the very difficult decision to come to the United States in 2017.

Although leaving Venezuela was very hard, relocating gave me the opportunity of continuing my education. As a student in the Interdisciplinary Visual Arts program, I have been exploring the many opportunities this program offers to learn and experiment with different techniques and materials such as collage, collagraph, printmaking, painting, and drawing to create meaningful work that offers glimpses of life in Venezuela. With my work I want to contribute to a more universal awareness by portraying the desperation and suffering Venezuelans experience while their government denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis and suppresses those brave enough who protest against it.

I am inspired by the power the visual arts have as a means to express ideas and bring them to life, and to provide a spotlight on certain aspects of Venezuela’s reality, often obscured by the filters and censorship applied to the country’s media. With each year that I have been away from home, witnessing from afar the decline of my country and its people, I have invested much more of myself into my work to raise viewers’ awareness of the situation in Venezuela through my artwork.