Known for her murals and immersive works, Dallas-based artist Mariell Guzman’s newest project is bringing attention to nature and how humans often disregard the health of the environment. This past Friday, Guzman launched Synthetic Aesthetic, an interactive jungle installation in Fort Worth transporting viewers to a jungle without having to leave the city.
For as long as she can remember, Guzman has had a knack for creating art. She grew up in Michoacán, Mexico, and some of her fondest memories are of being surrounded by art vendors everywhere she went.
Although she has been able to make a living as an artist, she wasn’t always sure of what she wanted to grow up to be. Her grandfather was a neurosurgeon, and her father was an engineer, and she always imagined that she would follow in their footsteps
“I always knew I wanted art to be a part of my life,” Guzman says. “Just staying creative was really important. Obviously, when you're young, you don't think you can make an actual career as an artist. It's not something people say you can be when you grow up. And so I thought for me, I was going to be a doctor or an engineer.”
It wasn’t until high school that Guzman realized she could pursue art as a full-time career. She met a teacher who, along with his wife, was a practicing artist.
Guzman attended University of Texas at Austin and studied studio art. After graduating from college, she pondered how she was going to make a career as an artist, but she says a career happened naturally after networking and connecting with people.
Now Guzman cites nature and her childhood in Mexico as her biggest artistic influences.
“There are so many artisans in Mexico,” she says. “And there are so many people who create work with clay, textiles and painting. Witnessing all of these different mediums always made me curious to explore, even though painting has always been my first love.”
Throughout her career as an artist, Guzman has experimented with several mediums, including textiles, plexiglass, screen printing and digital formats. One of her biggest projects was creating the mural and signage accompanying the African Savannah exhibition at the Fort Worth Zoo.
With her latest installation, Synthetic Aesthetic, Guzman gets to incorporate her love of nature with her passion for art. The work comes as a collaboration with artist Tyler Germaine and is on display at Art South Box, curated by Art Tooth in Fort Worth.
For two months, Synthetic Aesthetic will run for 24 hours per day. Visitors will be able to walk through a jungle simulation and see the impact of human activity.
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“We have people peeking into this immersive world,” Guzman says. “We created an ecosystem inspired by these jungles that both me and Tyler have experienced around the world. But it's a man-made environment, essentially. We’re wanting to point out how humans objectify and mistreat nature.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guzman is feeling the collaborative spirit more than ever. She says working with other artists has allowed her to maintain her sanity.
“I love collaborating with other artists,” Guzman says. “Especially during the pandemic, when a lot of artists are kind of realizing how fragile our careers are. You meet all these people that have all these crazy ideas, and they're very ambitious. Everyone is so supportive of each other. Everybody just wants everybody to succeed and make stuff and add kind of like cultural values to the city.”