We had the good fortune of connecting with Angel Cabrales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angel, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I was originally a GeoChemistry major for my first two years of college. It was during my second year that I began to draw again and realized this is what made me the happiest. I knew it would not be an easy road and I may not make a lot of money from it but quality of life over quantity made more sense to me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a multimedia artist who creates sculptures and installations which make social and political commentary on the world today. I work in a number of mediums from welding to casting to woodwork to painting and drawing.
Some of my work is on dehumanization of people through the politicization, marketing and spin that we are subjected to in our everyday lives. The installations and sculptures comment on immigration, inequality and domestic terrorism, in our commercial-centric society. This is to not only to heighten awareness of the subject matter, but to begin conversation where most would rather be entertained.
Currently, I wanted to focus my work in a more positive nature, which is currently traveling across the nation and in Mexico. It is The Uncolonized: A Vision in the Parallel the work is a peek into a parallel world, where the Western Hemisphere averted colonization, and the indigenous people of the lands thrived unobstructed. This body of work celebrates the indigenous heritage of people like me and is intended to invoke curiosity into the untaught histories of our Meso-American legacy.
The Uncolonized is a utopian world of bountiful wonders, where all the indigenous people united to form a superpower in the world. A world of Aztechnonauts exploring the heavens; Mayathmaticians unlocking the secrets of the universe through theoretical equations; Olmchemists creating new polymers; and alloys to move the world forward and Zapotecknical engineers building the architecture of the future. It is a SciFi-inspired vision of not what could have been, but through multiverse theory, what is currently happening in another universe.
This work is especially important to me as a Mexican-American. Growing up along the border in El Paso, we were taught to take pride in our Mexican heritage, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized there was a large part missing. My family could track their Spanish lineage easily and did so proudly. But when I asked about our other half, I was met with confusion, generalization, or dismissiveness. I spoke with many other friends, who were also Latino, and they experienced similar responses. They knew that they were of Spanish descent, but the indigenous side was vague. This led me to research not only where I came from but the civilizations as well.
What I discovered was that I not only came from a culturally rich lineage (Rarámuri and Zapotec) but highly sophisticated and technological advanced societies as well. From the vulcanization of rubber by the Olmec to the astronomy and mathematics of the Maya to the Architectural wonders of the Mexica, there was a lot to learn and be proud of from our people. And none of it was taught in schools! With this exhibition, I hope to inspire others to research their own affluent heritages and fully embrace their complex ancestry.
Getting to where I am now was never easy, nor did I expect it to be. Life is a risk, and I knew if I wanted to live as an artist I would have to not only work hard in learning my techniques but also learn to write professionally, speak and engage patrons, curators and the general public. I view it as an adventure, you never know what life is going to throw at you, so it’s about adaptation. I started out as a geoChemistry major out of high school. But in my second year I realized I did not want to just have a job that would pay me, I needed to be happy and making art always made me happy. I had to leave that university to become an art major (it was a science and technology university). I ended up going to the College of Santa Fe for a year, where I met a professor who would not accept my major (drawing and painting). He insisted that I needed to be a sculpture major and that I needed to go to a better school. I left and tried to save up to go back to school. I got scared and went to a graphic design school for a time. Decided it wasn’t for me and tried traditional and computer animation. But computer animation made me realize looking 3 Dimensional wasn’t enough. I needed to make the work in this reality. and I ended up at Arizona State as a sculpture major. it took me a long time but I was determined to get my MFA and not only make art but teach as well.
I am currently the sculpture professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, I am grateful to be at a university that supports my artistic endeavors and gives me a such creative students to teach in an international community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I would make them dinner at my house first. We are a very family oriented community here and of course, friends are family. I would take them on a tour of the murals throughout the city, visit scenic drive so they can see the skylines of both El Paso and Juarez. Cross the border for drinks at the Kentucky Derby, Drive out to White Sands, go hiking up the Franklin mountains. Eat at ELEMI, dance to which ever DJ the Indigo Hotel brings in.Visit the exhibitions at the El Paso Musuem of Art, the Museum of History and the Rubin Center for Contemporary art. If they are here during Dia de los Muertos, take them to the celebration down town. if they want to chill we can hangout at the San Jacinto Park have aguas and tacos and hang out with the Los Lagartos sculpture in the center of the park. And of course, take them to my studio.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe my support to a number of people, people who have encouraged my creativity and supported my endeavors. I would like to Shoutout to my fiancé Bianca Camarillo for not only accepting my crazy work load but working with me to ensure they come to fruition. My parents, as without them I would not be the artist I am today. Tlisza Jaurique for being a great professor, mentor and friend. Philippa Hughes from the Looking for America project for helping my work get out further into the world and all of the many people who have seen my work.
First six photos by Angel Cabrales Last two photos by Gaby Velasquez