Artist Interview: Emily Costello

Today we’re talking with local artist Emily Costello whose work is currently on display at Xico as part of the “Caras Amadas” exhibit. Emily is a member of the Phoenix Fridas, and exhibits at many locations throughout the Valley.  Check out her work at Xico through September 17th, 2011.

How did you first hear about Xico?  I heard about Xico (then Xicanindio) many years ago when me and my family attended their Dia de los Muertos events in Mesa at Pioneer Park.  Back then, it was the only celebration of it’s kind in the Valley.  Then I began attending Xico’s fundraising events as a corporate representative. Now, as a full-time artist, I’m happy to say, I can be part of their exhibits and activities!

What is your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why? I don’t have a favorite piece of art, although there are some that I like more than others.  When I paint portraits I feel that I have to push and challenge myself to create not only a likeness of the person but also to create a sense of who that person is.  Several of my Frida Kahlo portraits hold a special place in my heart because she is a constant inspiration to me.

How does culture influence your art? I find much of my inspiration from my Mexican heritage and its cultural icons and images.  My art depicts a variety of figures in popular Latin American culture;  images that I grew up with such depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, saints, the sacred heart, figures from Loteria, Dia de los Muertos characters, and folk heroes. I create with a variety of mediums including acrylics, wood, tin, clay, mixed media and found objects. Like many Latino artists, I  use vivid colors and symbolism to try to capture the joys and sorrows of life.

Is creating a portrait different from creating other kinds of art? Portraits are much different.  I feel that they are more challenging because portraits are only interesting when they tell us something about the person. A good portrait is not just a visual representation of a person; it should also reveal something about their essence.

What are you working on right now? What are you doing next as an artist? Although painting will always be my medium of choice, I find myself drawn to creating more art with recyclable objects such as those that are in the current Caras Amadas Exhibit.  The Virgin of Guadalupe is made from soda and beer cans.  The Frida Kahlo portrait is a painted with paper; flyers from local Latino grocery store flyers.

I’m working on Dia de los Muertos art at the moment.  I have several shows that I’ll be exhibiting at around the Valley and one in California.  I’ll also be vending smaller original pieces of art at Xico’s event on November 5 and at other events throughout the months of September and October.