Carmen Mardonez: Winner of the 2021 NOT REAL ART Grant for Artists

Carmen Mardonez: Winner of the 2021 NOT REAL ART Grant for Artists

Today, we welcome another one of our six 2021 NOT REAL ART Grant for Artists winners, the one and only Carmen Mardónez, hailing from Chile.

“My practice and my work is a way that I can feel freedom. I can be working without being worried about all the things that you are worried [about] when you are a parent. It’s really cathartic.” — Carmen Mardónez [0:39:19]

Carmen is a fiber artist living in Los Angeles, California, whose work explores an imagery of rebellion and freedom through natural landscapes saturated with lights and colors. She employs a characteristically wild freestyle embroidery method combined with other traditional knitting techniques to create sculptural works using materials ranging from canvas to discarded objects and surfaces, such as lemon bags, old t-shirts, and more recently, castoff bed sheets and pillows.

Imaginary Topographies by Carmen Mardonez
Imaginary Topographies by Carmen Mardonez

“I decided that I wanted to take care of my kid, but I didn’t want to become what my super religious school [taught] me – you have to be the woman in the house and take care of your kids, your husband, and then your life is done. It was like a battlefield [within] myself. I want to take care of my kid, but I don’t want to be just a mom, just a woman in the house. That is when I said I’m going to give a chance to my ‘artsy’ side that I was always working more like a hobby and I’m going to become a real artist. That [decision] that I made a couple of months before my kid was born, it was necessary for me because, when I moved to the US, I was like, ‘I’m going to be a mom, I’m going to stay at home, taking care of him until he starts going to school, but also I’m going to be a professional artist.’” — Carmen Mardónez [0:32:34]

In this episode, you’ll learn about the work that Carmen has done with incarcerated women in Chile and how she was impacted by those experiences. She also shares what she loves about her home country, what it was like growing up in an ‘artsy’ family in Santiago, and her decision to be a stay-at-home mom while also pursuing a career as a professional artist. We also touch on Carmen’s approach to self-care, why she has chosen to reject her Catholic roots, and what her plans are for the future.

“It was frustrating [for me] to see these women in prison and see how the country didn’t offer them opportunities to change their lives, real opportunities. We should teach them.” — Carmen Mardónez [0:12:54]

Tune in today to learn more about 2021 NOT REAL ART Grant winner, Carmen Mardónez!

Cooking by Carmen Mardonez
Cooking by Carmen Mardonez

New Book By Katie Love

From Cult To Comedy, A Memoir, by Katie Love

Author Katie Love: The Comedian Turning Heartbreak Into Humor [Podcast] coverThe year is 1970. The horror soap opera “Dark Shadows” is all the rage, the Vietnam War is raging and nine-year-old Katie, an imaginative and independent latch-key kid, comes home from school to discover her mother’s suicide.

Taken in by her older sister who has recently become a Jehovah’s Witness, Katie is shown an illustration from a bible picture book featuring wild animals peacefully lounging by a pool of water, surrounded by happy people picking fruit. An enticing offer is made: “Katie, this is Paradise. Do you want to see Mom again, happy and living forever? All you have to do is follow all of Jehovah’s commandments and you can be with Mom again.”

Mom happy and living forever? Two tickets to Paradise, please!

So begins Katie’s zealous quest to attain perfection and entrance into a utopian world which promises peace, love, and happiness. She discovers a much darker world. “Two Tickets to Paradise, from Cult to Comedy” tells the hilarious and heartbreaking story of an earnest, bible-toting kid intent on saving the world, and follows her metamorphosis into a boisterous comedian intent on saving herself through the healing powers of humor.


Key Points From This Carmen Mardonez Episode:

  • Learn about the social justice work Carmen has done with incarcerated women in Chile.
  • How this work changed Carmen’s perspective on the political and socioeconomic conditions in her home country.
  • Why she feels grateful that she had the opportunity to have these eye-opening experiences.
  • What Carmen loves about Chile, including how it is changing for the better.
  • Hear about her upbringing in the urban center of Santiago with her eight siblings.
  • Find out why Carmen says that she comes from a very ‘artsy’ family.
  • How becoming a mother fueled Carmen’s rebellion against conservative laws regarding women’s reproductive health.
  • Her decision to be a stay-at-home mom while also pursuing a career as a professional artist.
  • The importance of prioritizing your mental health as an artist and a mother.
  • Carmen describes her practice, particularly how she seeks to address textile waste.
  • The tactility that comes with beginning to work in a more sculptural manner.
  • Carmen reflects on being a prolific artist, describing her embroidery technique in more detail.
  • Her approach to self-care; keep working, have lots of plants, and spend time on the beach.
  • Find out why Carmen has chosen to reject her Catholic roots.
  • Learn about the recent group show that Carmen was included in at Art Share L.A.
  • Carmen shares some of her plans for the future and how they have been affected by COVID.

“It’s been really hopeful to see that we have a chance to change dictatorship and also that we have a chance to build a better country for all people, for all kids. That has been amazing. We are really proud of our people.” — Carmen Mardónez [0:25:31]

Ana Maria Rainbow Pillow by Carmen Mardonez
Ana Maria Rainbow Pillow by Carmen Mardonez

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“I want to be a woman that people can trust my work, that I can stand by my work, that I can be able to answer for what I say and what I feel and what I think.” — Carmen Mardónez [0:47:45]

Fomalhaut B by Carmen Mardonez
Fomalhaut B by Carmen Mardonez

Scott "Sourdough" Power

Scott “Sourdough” Power is the the creator and executive producer of NotRealArt.com. He is also the co-founder of Crewest Studio a digital media company in Los Angeles dedicated to creative culture and the $2T creative economy.