The Mexican Street Artist Destroying Male Stereotypes
An interview with Victoria Villasana, one of our favourite street artists who's work on subverting male stereotypes demands to be seen.
How did you get started in street art?
It was out of pure curiosity. One day I went to get some milk, I was living in East Dulwich in London at the time, and I saw a guy putting a tiny paste up in the corner of the street. I felt an urge to speak to him, but because I was having a bad day I continued walking, then after I came back to my road I saw what he left, it was a really cool paste up of miniatures with shadows. I googled him and he happened to be Mexican too – his name is Pablo Delgado. I came back to my house and I saw piles and piles of my collages with embroidery that I’d been making in the past 2-3 years as a hobby, and I thought to myself perhaps I should paste these on the streets, instead of having them in my room…. Why not? So next weekend I went out and put them around East Dulwich, then Shoreditch and everything started from there.
Who inspired you as an artist?
So many things! I like contemporary artists and the classic ones too, it’s difficult to pick one! I tend to like artists that challenge you to ask questions, that move you, that unsettle you.
Have you always worked with textiles in your art?
In the last 3-4 years I have, but I’ve done painting, sculpture, collages with 3D elements, fashion, floristry. I used to be really hard on myself for being such a jack of all trades, but I can’t help it, this is who I am. I learnt to make the most of my abilities.
What moves you to create your art? Do you feel a responsibility to create awareness around certain issues?
Everything moves me – since I was kid I always felt a really strong urge to create. I felt my best when I was making things and I think we all do, I think humans we are naturally makers and creators that’s why we can connect through art easily. I’ve have always been concerned with social issues and art became a good medium for me to express them.
We love your work around mental health and boys crying – what do you think of the culture of toxic masculinity and what it does to young men as well as women?
I think we need to stop labelling and putting people into boxes – we are emotional creatures that’s what make us humans. Being emotional doesn’t apply to women only, we are amputating from boys part of their humanity from a really young age and that is causing adult men to suffer. It leaves men emotionally disembodied, afraid to show weakness and often unable to cope with their feelings, causing some men to deal with their emotions in a violent way or to suffer in silence.
What is Mexican culture like in terms of masculinity, and how men are supposed to behave?
In Mexican culture it’ s pretty much the same as any culture in terms of some toxic masculinity vices. What I see in Mexico is that some women are the ones who promote sexism in the first place without realising. Some women still believe in the story that they are creatures that need to be looked after by men. My generation and younger generations are getting better at recognizing these vices that sometimes are so deep in our culture that we no longer see them.
How important is Instagram to you? What kind of responses do you get from people on there?
Instagram has been amazing for me, not only in terms of getting jobs also to connect with other creatives and collaborate, but yes I would say that 90% of my work comes from Instagram.
Is it ever risky doing street art?
Not my paste ups! I always respect private properties and most people are super curious and when they see you they start talking to you.
How do you make sure your street art is preserved?
This is something I can’t control. I’ve had pieces that last months and some a few minutes. I used to feel upset whenever I spent a couple of hours in creating a piece then put it out there for people to enjoy only to see that someone stole it or destroyed it within a few minutes. I no longer care – once I put something on the streets I let it go. It’s placed there to get a reaction from people, whether is positive or negative and whether one person sees it or 1000 people.
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