Jessica Alazraki was born and raised in Mexico City, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Universidad Anáhuac.
Since 1998, she’s been based in New York City. She also holds a diploma in graphic design from Parsons School of Design and a certificate in drawing and painting from the New York Academy of Art.
Jessica has exhibited her work in four solo exhibitions in the United States and in over 50 group exhibitions in both Mexico and the United States. In 2018, she received the Award of Excellence from the Huntington Arts Council and an Honorable Mention Award from the Barrett Art Center. In 2019, she participated in the ARTWorks Fellowship at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) and was selected into the Creative Capital NYC “El Taller” in collaboration with the Hemispheric Institute. In 2020, Jessica completed the Trestle Art Space Residency Program, was awarded the New Work Grant by the Queens Art Fund and won the Diane Etienne Founders Award from the Stamford Art Association. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Hopper Price Award and was a finalist for the Alexander Rutsch Award. More recently, Jessica was named the 2021 MvVo AdArt Show winner and The Jackson Painting Prize Emerging Artist Award 2021.
Her work is featured in several publications including New American Paintings, No. 152, Northeast Issue.
As a Mexican woman living in New York City, I feel it is my responsibility to open up a dialogue about immigrants. My work intends to bring Latinx life into contemporary art by celebrating the culture and highlighting family values. The narrative shows interior domestic scenes surrounding tables.
Bright colors and decorative patterns are very characteristic of my works; in my oil paintings, portraits are always in the foreground and close to the viewer. Intense brushwork provides unique character combined with flat backgrounds to highlight emotion.
Hello Jessica! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you do art, or is art just part of the picture?
Jessica: For me is all about painting. I need music to get into the zone and in the morning I need coffee.
I don’t sketch or plan much; I paint. I found that every painting is different, and the more I paint, the more I get into it and the better I can execute the picture. I like the freedom of not knowing what the painting will look like; I start with a face and build everything around it. Sometimes I have to change things in the process, it’s not easy, but I am not big on planning. I prefer to see what happens in the canvas and react based on something that’s already there.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Jessica: I usually love starting a new piece, and most of the time, the first strokes are the best ones, but I do hit a brick wall in which the painting goes into an ugly face, and it’s hard to move from there. The prominent color in the background, for example, is challenging, and sometimes I change that many times. Resolving that whole middle stage takes experience, and it can be frustrating. But once you figure out how to make it work, the emotional reward is enormous.
You say you feel it is your responsibility to open up a dialogue about immigrants. Tell us more about that.
Jessica: As a Mexican Immigrant, I enjoy painting stories about Latinx families, and based on the political climate that we experienced last term, I felt it is important to talk about Latinx immigrants. I am not a political person, and my approach is not confrontational; instead, I prefer to create paintings that celebrate the culture to remind people about the beauty of diversity and the positive influences that immigrants bring. It’s a matter of representation; I want to contribute by bringing Latinx portraits into contemporary art.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Jessica: Music’s crucial; I listen to pop and also music from the ’80s. Sometimes in Spanish but mainly in English. I also prefer working for at least a few hours in a row rather than days that I have to interrupt for different reasons.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Jessica: I always have been a portrait painter, and since I worked on my self-directed work, I choose to paint Latinx Immigrants. I have always been interested in using bold colors too. I started painting very messy and having a more expressive style. With my series The Bathers, I discovered the flat background worked, so I kept that. Eventually, I used the vinyl tablecloth as my canvas, trying to incorporate the actual pattern to create a unique art object instead of a traditional painting, but I struggle with the material. During the pandemic, I concentrated on domestic interiors and brought the tablecloth pattern to the canvas but using purely paint without interruption. Now, I invent the tablecloth pattern to keep the aesthetics of pattern design by creating shapes that allow me to use bold colors with paint.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Jessica: I have the same love for all my pictures, although I do recognize some worked better than others. I recently really enjoyed going back to the stretched canvas. I did that with my painting “Perrier in Blue.” I have been enjoying doing this new series of work.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Jessica: I put my heart into every work, but I don’t have an attachment; I love to sell paintings. It makes me very happy that someone likes it and has it in their home. That’s the ultimate! It goes beyond money is an incredible feeling that people hang them and see them every day; I’m honored.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Jessica: Instagram is a great tool, of course, but when people see the work in person is even better. So having a solo exhibition is the best way to reach collectors.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about?
Jessica: I’m working on my next solo exhibition at Black Wall Street Gallery, probably at the end of the year.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Jessica: My goal is to continue producing a lot of work, large format, and hopefully selling everything. I am always trying to grow, and I continue applying for opportunities to increase my visibility and exposure. Hopeful and excited for the future!