EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Born and raised in San Elizario, Texas, Mario Alonso Perez shares some of his life experiences by portraying it in his printmaking.
“I started off with dinosaurs when I was like three, then started drawing Spiderman and Dragonball,” said Perez.
Perez said he discovered the unique style of art from a stone lithography class he took at El Paso Community College with Professor Brack Morrow.
“I spent the whole semester, basically up until lock down, planing a stone, which is making a limestone flat and then drawing on it with grease pencils. But then I was never able to make a print on it. So, it gave me an itch to make print and I had learned about linoleum in that class,” Perez shared. “It was a three-part course on linoleum, taleo and lithography. I knew I could probably do this from home and I just started carving and doing lino cut prints.”
Perez was influenced by other local art instructors including: Professor Isadora Stowe from EPCC and Professor Manuel Guerra from the University of Texas at El Paso.
After learning creative tips, Perez experimented, learning more ways to explore and create different pieces of art that resembled life experiences.
“I either go very ridiculous to where it’s kind of campy and fun, or I do actually a piece that’s more indicative of my agricultural roots. I grew up in San Elizario, harvesting, picking onions or chilis in the summer,” Perez said.
He said that many people have been able to relate to his art because they’re from the area as well, “They’ll see some piece that I did that represents migration, moving along or following the crop. They see a nice little truck that I carve out and it’ll trigger some memory in them as well because I saw that every day and I’m not the only person that’s lived here.”
But, it doesn’t stop there. Perez’s art has crossed boundaries outside of the El Paso area as well, resonating with cultural similarities from miles away.
“Everybody has a little bit of that in them whether that’s inside the community and even outside the community. We’ve had people from New Mexico here or people from even further that will identify with the pieces. I have pieces in Chicago from people that related to the art or the narrative the art is giving off.”
Perez added that seeing people acknowledge and relate to his art really puts into perspective just how individual his upbringing may be, but it’s also shared with so many others.
The experience of printmaking has further developed Perez as an artist, but it has also been a journey of self-awareness.
“I needed printmaking to help me become more patient,” Perez shared. “It’s a very slow process and it just made me realize how much I needed to slow down and how slow my thoughts could become. How slow I can just take it. I’m great on the road now, everybody can pass me. I’m just trying to get where I’m going.”
While continuing to create new designs that uniquely reflect Perez, he shared he hopes to be a light of inspiration for other artists.
“Any artist that tries every day to make art is someone that inspires me or people that do inspire me. That’s what I want to do and I hope that if someone feels like if maybe they’re in a rut or can’t make art, they can take a look at my bad drawings too. They’re not always good, but you know, I’m just trying,” Perez said.
He says fuel for creative content comes from a passion in the heart.
“If you have the capacity to create, you’re an artist. You just do that because that’s what makes your heart feel good, just don’t stop and don’t quit. Ever.”
For more of Perez’ work, you can follow him on Instagram @tia.jami. Perez is also a resident artist at Casa Ortiz art gallery which is located at 10167 Socorro Rd.