Emily Nelms Perez
How did you get into debt?
Mine has not been an orthodox path in becoming an artist. My debts came from studying--I began studying art at California State University Hayward (now East Bay), where I got a B.A. in Art History; and then got an MFA in Drawing and Painting from CCA (California College of the Arts, formerly CCAC). I studied Political Science and a History minor at the University of Liberia, up to the 4th year level, and was already doing a proposal for my final thesis, when civil unrest began on the campus of the University of Liberia, where I was studying. Eventually the whole nation fell into political turbulence--ending any hope of following my father footsteps, by entering the Foreign Service. So I decided to pursue my first passion, art, to my father's dismay. Before he passed away, he asked me if I had never heard of the proverbial starving artist?
Describe your art practice
My practice is two-fold, personal and commercial. The personal side encompasses whatever medium needed for the specific work and is based on sculptural cultural artifacts. Recent projects have included cement, rebar, red clay, beeswax, corn, cardboard, and oil paint. In regards to my personal work I am focused on the concealed history of North America’s treatment and relationship to Central and South America, as well as the current nationalist narrative permeating society, depicting Central and South Americans as foreign and dangerous. I am concerned with the present fear of de-colonization and re-entry of the Latinx peoples through Mexico. Additionally, I am considering issues of authenticity and cultural preservation in a multi-ethnic society. The commercial/design side of my practice is determined by the organization I am working with. These projects have covered a variety materials and purposes from museum displays to the design and installation of international public art.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?: