We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabi Magaly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabi, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
I think the most difficult decision I had to make to further myself as an artist was leaving home. Being the first born daughter to immigrant parents is hard because they want one thing for you and you want another. You don’t want to disrespect them but that’s how it might come off to them, when I wanted to move away for undergrad at 18 and 22 for grad school. My mom now understands that I left because of school to go further in life not because I didn’t love her. She’s very proud of where I’ve been and where I’m going because she knows that at the end of the day I’m doing what makes me happy in life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is about being a First Generation Mexican-American Woman. I was raised in a Machismo household which is a toxic masculinity way of thinking. My dad wanted me to be a wife and mother by a certain age and my mom wanted me to go to school to go further in life because she knew education was the key to not struggle for the rest of my life. So being raised in this push and pull household I was confused with what I wanted in life because my father was telling me my place is in the kitchen, cooking for my husband and then I have my mom telling me to get out of the kitchen and go study for school. So, I went to grad school even when my dad said it was a waste of time to go back. That was my proudest moment in life because I choose that day to become the person my mom has always wanted me to be. My artwork is inspired by challenging and creating everyday items that you would see in a traditional Mexican household, I re-contextualize them to have a new meaning in this Machismo environment. For example I created crosses and change the sexist Bible verse to let women know that they do not submit to their husbands or they were placed on this earth for being mothers and wives. The Women’s body is theirs and they can do what they please to do with it. Where I am today is bit weird because COVID happening really changed everything. I graduated May 2020 so I was going into the world where the job market was uncertain or postponed. I was very fortunate enough to have found a great job teaching photography online at Dine College which is one of few tribal colleges in American. When it comes to my art making its been weird because everything is online and I’m learning to adapt to this new world COVID has brought us. At the end of the day I got to where I am because I had a great support system and I kept going even when I was told no. I got back up and banged on another door that would open for me. Never in million years did I think I would be where I am today or to see where my artwork has gone around the world. I say that because my story was supposed to be that I never made it out of my small town. That I was supposed be what my father wanted me to be. And I changed that, I became a Professor and an artist that’s finally is happy in life.
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’m always looking at art, so I would take my friend to the Blue Star Complex that has amazing art galleries all along that section. Right before we leave that area we would go eat at Burgarteca, it’s this awesome burger joint that combines their burgers with Mexican dishes. Like chilaquile burger and mole fries, it’s just great food. Once we’re done eating, we would hit up Presa House Art gallery this other amazing art space that welcomes all types of art and backgrounds. Then head over to downtown San Antonio, walk along the River walk to find awesome Murals done by local artist. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The people I would like to shoutout is Libby Rowe, Sarah Lasley, Greg Elliott, and the rest of UTSA art department. They helped me become the artist I am today. Of course my mom, she has always supported me in all my crazy art ideas and never has questioned what I am doing in my work. She’s the reason why I’m always working on something because she’s such a hard working woman. My boyfriend Frank, that saw something in me when I told him I wanted to be an artist. He knew I was going to make it when it wasn’t even a thought that I could be one. And lastly, to my family and friends, thank you for everything.