A Q&A with Texas artist Jorge Losoya.
1. Let's start with the basics, tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Del Rio, Texas along the Texas-Mexico border. I’m Mexican-American, gay and constantly doodling. Since graduating high school, I’ve been in Austin, Texas. Here, I developed my academic and artistic interests. I have a B.A. in Geography, an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning, and M.A. in Latin American Studies from UT Austin, focused on environmental justice issues, disasters and critical theory. Apart from school, I love reading, video games and movies, particularly themes of science fiction, mystery and horror. Some favorites of mine include Stephen King, Legend of Zelda, The Thing, Avatar: The Last Airbender series. And, of course, I am also a nerd for any book on geography. Since the pandemic, I have also taken up indoor gardening and baking.
Art is something I’ve always been interested in and a way for my stories and ideas to come to life. Apart from a high school art class, I’ve actually never had any formal training for my creative outlets. I recently started embracing my artistic talent and finding new ways to merge it with my academic interests. Much of what I draw is inspired by my academic journey and the pop culture I consume, with a queer and borderland twist.
2. What media do you mainly work with?
I mainly worked with pencils, colored pencils, and pens. A couple of years ago, however, I began using Procreate to explore digital artwork. Since then a lot of my work has been digital. I use my mini iPad and Apple pen for digital projects. I also recently began hand embroidery and excited to explore that more as a creative medium.
3. What got you started on your current path?
I’ve always been a curious and creative child, which probably led me to my current interests in research and art. I don’t think there was a singular event that set me on my current path, but rather a series of creative and intellectual encounters. Disasters and environmental justice became a major interest of mine throughout my academic journey as I learned more about spatial environmental inequalities. I found out in middle school I could actually draw pretty well and it quickly became a creative outlet for me. More recently, I took a planning studio course a year ago that brought all these interests of mine together, environmental justice, community planning, and art. Although recent, it was a major point of clarity for my next steps.
4. How have things (artistically, life, whatever) changed for you over the past two years?
Rediscovering my artistic and creative side these past two years was a blessing. Before the pandemic, I hadn’t drawn since high school, only doodling here and there, mainly all over my class notes. It was not till recently that I realized how much my creative side was integral to my emotional and academic journey. Overall, these last two years have been quite a trip but I feel like have a better sense of myself and where I am going. Art had a key role in this.
5. Who to/Where do you look for inspiration?
I have recently found much inspiration from fungi, moss, and lichens. Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life got me on this journey of inspiration. In both my creative and academic interests I’ve found much to learn from these small organisms. Mushrooms tend to appear in much of my recent artwork as visual cues to represent persistence, worldmaking, or extravagance. They also stay very still and thus excellent subjects to study.
6. What are your major concerns with the world today?
The current state of politics and climate crisis are continual concerns of mine. We continue to see attacks on our democracy, rights, political power, and environment. These intertwined issues have devastating impacts on the low-income and BIPOC communities that are continually marginalized. A recent example is the SCOTUS ruling on Roe v. Wade, foreshadowing even further attacks on our rights to privacy. In parallel, we are seeing the impacts of a climate crisis across the nation, especially here in Texas where extremes of weather is no stranger.
7. How does your artwork connect with your larger purpose?
Much of my artwork ties to different social and environmental issues I’m interested in exploring through research and academia. For me, art is a creative voice to make sense of these issues and communicate them. I hope my artwork can illuminate the underlying causes and innovative solutions to some of society’s pressing injustices.
8. Advice for beginners (of any age)?
Don’t be afraid to follow new and unfamiliar paths. Without this advice, I don’t think I would have landed where I am. In undergrad, I took all kinds of classes that led me to find my current interests. It is easy and comforting to stick to what we know and stay in familiar places, nevertheless, I have always found great inspiration in unventured paths.
9. Work/shows we should look for?
Jorge Antonio Losoya was born and raised along the Texas-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas. He holds an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from UT Austin. Creatively, Jorge is interested in exploring his identity as a child of the border through themes of horror, science fiction and ecology. He is also interested in expanding artistic methodologies in the disaster and hazard planning field. Typically, Jorge works with pencil, colored pencils, markers and digital art.