Mexicana-Americana: Celebrating multiculturalism with all the colors of the rainbow
Artist Marianne Ro pays tribute to her Mexican heritage in her colorful Yarn Painting and Ceramics
When moving to a new country it’s easy enough to become so integrated that you forget where you come from. It’s also very easy to go the opposite way and hold on to your roots so much it becomes impossible for you to take flight.
The hardest thing is striking a healthy balance between the two, and Mariana Romero, the multidisciplinary creator behind MarianneRo has managed to do precisely that, when, after 33 years in her native Mexico, she took the biggest plunge of all and followed her heart to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she now lives with her husband.
While still in Mexico, Mariana studied arts and spent a few years teaching in Puebla, before a change in personal circumstances brought about a career shift. “I started working in tourism in Playa del Carmen, and I’m actually very grateful for that because that’s where I met my husband. But the seven years I spent away from art was so hard at times. I thought my head would explode with all the ideas and the creativity I was keeping bottled up in there!”
Immersed in art and crafts since childhood, Mariana remembers marveling at the old ladies sewing and knitting in Mexican markets where her mom used to take her. Indeed it was a mix of her mother’s love of textile and her father’s love of art that brought her to yarn painting first (she made her first piece aged 13!) and to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Puebla after.
The passion and pride for her roots that exude from Mariana’s eyes when she talks about her art is palpable in her bright, almost hypnotic yarn pieces, which illustrate abstract reinterpretations of the natural world. With the clever juxtaposition of geometric patterns mixing straight and curved lines, and bold, often complementary, colors, Mariana’s paintings acquire an incredible depth that draws you into her mesmerizing world. The use of cotton or wool strings of varying thicknesses and lengths gives the drawings an almost three-dimensional feel, making her fantastical characters jump out at you.
The love and respect for nature as a nurturing force are constant elements of Mariana’s work, which draws on the ancient tradition of the Huichol people, one of the largest indigenous groups in Mexico famous for their yarn paintings and beadwork art. Much like the Huichol people have done for centuries, Mariana uses her art to celebrate Mother Earth and incite a renewed awareness of its fragility in the viewer.
“Every piece I create is an opportunity for me to pour a bit of my heart, feelings, and emotions out, to perpetuate my Mexican identity, and to engage the final viewer or customer in a dialogue that I hope will make them reflect on the issues I find important.”
A jack of all trades since her beginnings in bookbinding in Puebla, Marianne soon realized she would need to zone into one or two artforms when she decided to start her brand
While yarn painting was a given because of the strong connection she had been feeling to the artform all her life, ceramics was a secondary addition to her practice.
“What I love about ceramic is how versatile it is: I can make jewelry, plates, bowls, home decor. It’s a very gentle, very delicate practice, and I love the way colors can suddenly transform a plain white or cafè piece into something completely new.”
What both art forms have in common is the painstaking amount of patience needed to complete a piece. While yarn painting is a simpler technique than ceramics, it takes a really long time to assemble a fully finished picture with individual bits of strings, especially with Mariana’s complex designs.
On the other hand, if her ceramic designs are more minimal, producing the actual pieces comes with a lot of trial and error, since ceramic can be a fickle material prone to unexpected changes during drying and cooking, as well as breakages.
“Sometimes I might be working on a piece and accidentally knock it down. The noise of it shattering is heartbreaking… All those hours of work dissolved into dust on my workshop floor!”
In the future Mariana definitely sees herself continuing her yarn and ceramic work, but is looking forward to moving to bigger formats and to hosting her first solo show in the US, hopefully, this year.
“Now that I don’t live in Mexico anymore, communicating my heritage and my traditions through my work has become even more important. This is who I am, this is where I come from.”
If you want to bring a little bit of Mariana’s beating Mexican heart home with you, head over to her collection to shop her yarn and ceramic work!