We had the good fortune of connecting with Cherish Marquez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cherish, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I have always been inspired by art. When I was young, I remember looking in my Father’s desk and finding sketches that he had drawn. I had no idea my Dad was an artist. He told me that his dream was to be an Illustrator. He enrolled in the military to pay for school but it didn’t work out the way he had hoped. He gave me his art books, old cameras, and encouraged me to create. I started to sketch, color, and paint. I found inspiration in the land around me. I wouldn’t say that I have created art my entire life, but art has inspired me to live and keep living through difficult times. After receiving my BFA in my mid-20s I decided to pursue art for real. I saw my friends and other artists thriving and I thought, “If they can do it why can’t I?” I enrolled in The University of Denver’s MFA program Emerging Digital Practices where I began the journey of finding my voice and telling the stories that I needed to put out in the universe. I went from creating text-based games to creating large 3D video games. I was inspired by the opportunity to create digital landscapes that represented memories of the land where I am from. I started to pursue a more active role in environmental justice and began making work about environmental racism and the communities that these atrocities are inflicted upon. In the town where I am from, Sierra Blanca, TX a nuclear waste dump was proposed to be built next to our primarily Latin community. Through resident activism, the project was halted but moved to a different location just 30 miles north. From there I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico where I lived for the majority of my life until I landed in Denver. I began to think about the trauma the land has experienced and how we can assist in its healing. I strive to find a balance between the natural world and the technical world. I make art to bring these issues to light and to ask difficult questions. It is my goal to cultivate solutions so we may live in a world that is focused on sustainability rather than consumption.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What sets me apart from other artists is the subject and content of my work and the medium I choose to use. It is formed by my experience, my memories, my culture, and my connection to the land where I am from. I create primarily digital landscapes and renders of a speculative future based on Latinx identity. I am an advocate for victims of sexual abuse, for people with disabilities, and for environmental justice. I fight against mental health stigma and am an active member of the Queer community. My practice includes creating digital landscapes, 3D modeling, Animation, Sound Design, Wearable Technology, Creative Coding, and Photography. I work in programs such as Maya, Blender, Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, Affinity Photo, Affinity Design, Unity, Unreal, Final Cut Pro, Divinci Resolve, Max MSP, Arduino, Processing, Spark AR, Substance Painter.
I am the proudest of how I continue to push through life’s challenges to make my dreams come true. I have always wanted to be an artist. I finally feel like I can say that I am one. I am proud that through my persistence I have been able to be a part of so many different opportunities. From showing my work in Germany to working with students at Redline Contemporary Art Center. I am the most excited about what is to come. I have many projects that I am working on and I can’t wait to see each idea come to fruition and what opportunities come after.
I got to where I am today by obtaining a degree in art and continuing to build my skills through weekly practice. Being an artist isn’t all about producing. It’s about trying, failing, experimenting, sketching, journaling, and growing. It wasn’t easy to get to where I am today. I had to get over a lot of obstacles mentally. It is easy for a person who belongs to an intersection of minority groups to get stuck in an endless loop of imposter syndrome. I had to continually push myself to make work and still have to today. I believe in taking care of your body and mind. I try to do something active daily, even if it is going for a short walk. I see a therapist to find balance mentally.
I have learned that it is ok to take breaks. It is ok to rest. You are not defined by how productive you are. Some artists make a piece every day and some make one once a year. Your process is your process and only you can determine what that looks like.
My story is that I come from a tiny Latinx town that has overcome several obstacles and continues to thrive today. I am from the desert. There is dirt in my veins. I inhale the clean air and look to the moon for guidance.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would suggest that they go to Misfit Kitchen, Sputnik, and El Five for quality cuisine. I would suggest Thin Man, Gladys The Nosy Neighbor, Little Devil’s, Milk, and XBar if they want to have a drink. I would suggest Mutiny, Bardo Coffee, and Queen City Coffee if they want some delicious lattes. Finally, I would suggest Redline Contemporary Art Center, Friend of a Friend, Understudy, and Leon gallery if they want to see some of the amazing art and artists we have in Denver. There are so many more places and sites to see, but those would be the places I would suggest they start with. Denver is full of alternative and one-of-a-kind spaces and I encourage everyone to support local businesses.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would first like to thank my fiancee Jazmin Montano who has supported me throughout my education and continues to support and encourage me to pursue my artistic career. I would like to thank the members of my support system. My Mom for supporting me throughout my life and encouraged my independence. My Dad who encouraged me to be creative and be serious about it. I would like to thank my mentor at NMSU, Tomiko Jones who recognized something in me and helped guide my creative practices from the beginning. I would like to thank my mentors at DU Laleh Mehran, Christopher Colemon, and Rafael Fajardo, who motivated me and pushed me to use my voice. I would like to thank Redline for giving me the opportunity to grow as an artist and a space to work. I would like to thank my chosen family, my friends, who I would not have survived without. I would like to thank my employer Atlantis Community, Inc., for supporting me not only financially throughout my education, but encouraged me to pursue it as well as providing opportunities to move up in the organization.
Erynn McConnell Cherish Marquez