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Clarissa Zarate - A Texas Mother of Five Creates Portraits of Powerful Women

Clarissa Zarate – A Texas Mother of Five Creates Portraits of Powerful Women

Clarissa Zarate considers her work the antithesis of the life she has lived. After years as a commissioned artist creating images of the Southwest, the Texas-based artist recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas in Rio Grande Valley. She plans to earn a graduate degree and become a full-time art instructor. Combining oil and acrylics, Zarate paints portraits of powerful women using bold colors and forceful lines.

Not Real Art Artist Of The Day Series

Zarate’s paintings of historical figures blend a Pop Art style with a self-described ‘Chicano color palette.’ By depicting her subjects in a quasi-religious light, Zarate pays homage to Frida Kahlo, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and other women who have inspired her on her creative journey. By pursuing her dreams, she hopes to pave the way for future generations of artists.

As a Latina who identifies as a Chicana, because both my parents and their parents were farm workers in the 50s-60s and early 1970s, I feel that we as a people and culture have been left out of many things, not just the art world. There is little representation of Latinos /Chicanos in the film industry as well as the music industry. I would like to see this change sometime in my lifetime so that my grandchildren and future great-grandchildren, who may become artists like me, will not encounter the same roadblocks.

Although her career was disrupted by the pandemic, Zarate dreams of creating a mobile art studio that will provide relief to members of the community from COVID-related stress. By sharing her story with others who feel excluded from the traditional art world, and inspiring them to follow their creative instincts, Zarate hopes to increase the visibility of Latinas in the fine art sector through the example of a determined single mother of five.

Table of Contents

Clarissa Zarate — Artist Statement

Clarissa Zarate. Headshot
Clarissa Zarate

My art can best be described as the complete opposite of the life I have lived. Most of my paintings and artwork are done combining a few of my favorite style genres like Baroque, Pop Art and Neo Classicism. The overall feeling I would like to convey to the viewer via my artwork is a feeling of happiness and peace. The bold, colorful palette I use when I paint is chosen by me in hopes that I bring a smile to those who view it. My style has evolved and I am currently using a palette of mixed media. The medium I use for my figures and portraits is oils in a Pop Realism style mashed up with an Illustration background in bright and bold patterns in acrylics.

Clarissa Zarate – Grant Submission Work

Clarissa Zarate. Frida In Pearls
Frida In Pearls
Acrylic and oil on canvas
48 x 36 inches

Frida In Pearls is painted using acrylic for the background and oil for the figure. Pearls signify wisdom and beauty.

Maya in Pearls. Maya In Pearls
Maya In Pearls
Oil and acrylic on canvas
48 x 36 inches

Maya In Pearls is painted using acrylic for the background and oil for the figure. Pearls signify wisdom and beauty.

Clarissa Zarate. Eleanor In Pearls
Eleanor In Pearls
Oil and acrylic on canvas
48 x 36 inches

Eleanor In Pearls is painted using acrylic for the background and oil for the figure. Pearls signify wisdom and beauty.

Clarissa Zarate – Artist Bio

My name is Clarissa Zarate. I am a 52-year-old artist from Rio Grande Valley, South Texas. I have been a commissioned artist for over 30 years. I am a May 2021 graduate of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I received my Bachelors in Fine Art with a concentration in Studio Art. I am a single mother of 5. My future goals after earning my Bachelors degree is to apply for a Graduate program because I would love to become a professor at a university some day. My favorite medium to use is oils and acrylic. My style does not fall into any one category but is a mixture of several with a definite Chicano art color palette. I enjoy mashing up two art styles and creating a piece that is pleasing to the eyes using bold colors and strong line work.

Clarissa on the Web And Social Media

Here is where to find out more about Clarissa Zarate on the web and social media:

About the Artist of the Day Series

All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis is a writer, photographer, and former New York Gallery Director based in Washington, D.C. She has an M.F.A. in Fine Art and an undergraduate degree in Russian Literature. She speaks five foreign languages and is currently in a Masters of Non-Fiction Writing Program at John Hopkins University.

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