Cecy Esparza

visual artist

@cecyesparzaart

INKTOBER

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Graphite Portrait Commissions are OPEN! ♡

Contact cecyesparzaart@gmail.com or socials for details

Artist Q&A

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Cecy Esparza, a Mexican “todóloga”. 

Todóloga – Literally means “to be an everything-studier”. The more English translation is, “to be a jack of all trades”. The word todólogo/a is made up of  todo meaning “everything” and the suffix – logo/a which means “one who studies”

My parents didn’t mind what I did or studied as long as I had a career to have the security of finding a job if I needed to. My brother always told me I should choose one thing to do and be the best at it but I just wanted to do it all.

Looking for my definitive definition and identity I’ve had a couple of crisis through the years.

I decided to give curated sections of me including only the relevant parts depending on who asked, “mexican”, “tourismologist”, “model”, “artist”, blah…  but the more I look, the more words, and adjectives, trades and experiences I go through, the more difficult it becomes to keep my different “identities” in check.

What’s your background?

I am mainly a self taught artist. People often think because I do many “artistic” or creative things, I probably have an art formation background. In reality I am a Tourismologist by profession (B.A. in Tourism Business Management). I have experience in hospitality, event planning, costumer service and other fields. 

The closest thing to an art formation I had were two art class experiences in basic drawing and oil painting during university as extracurricular courses. More recently I had another oil painting class at the Upper Hutt Woman’s Community Centre in Wellington. 

My mom’s side of the family, even though not artists by profession either (mainly teachers), do have a fame of being “todólogos” as we say in Spanish. My grandpa used to come up with many ways to sustain the family from photography to selling sweets and snacks to cake decorating. 

From there my mom, aunt and uncles developed a sense of doing everything on their own and coming up with creative ways to make a living, leading to me and my cousins with an infamous curiosity to try and do it all. 

What’s your media of choice?

Even though I’ve had two oil painting classes I actually don’t really use oils too often. My media of choice are acrylics and ink. 

Drawing has always come easy to me and after participating in the Inktober Challenge for two consecutive years, I’ve grown comfortable with pen and ink drawing, loving the finish and look it gives over the traditional graphite or pencil drawing.

Acrylics is the paint that I’ve used the most and in more variety of occasions. Over my university years, I painted two acrylic murals used in the XXVIII Touristic & Gastronomic Show & the 2018 Oaxacan Festival at Ms Millenium Hotel. 

Why do you do what you do?

Nobody told me art wasn’t serious or I couldn’t do it but I was never encouraged to pursue it either. Based on my subconscious preconceptions of life and my inherited curiosity for culture and the world (this one from my father’s side) I decided to go into Tourism Business Management.

My father also had his own business (doctor’s office) so my idea of success in life was being my own boss, therefore Business Management looked like the obvious decision and adding tourism to the pot made it a match made in heaven for me at the time.

But as we know, “Not everything that shines is gold”…

After experiencing the idea and the mindset other people had towards the career plus the low pay rate and awful treatment through the different sectors of the industry (in my experience mainly coming from supervisors and managers) I decided this wasn’t going to be a sustainable life and career path for me.

I always tried to push my art and creativity here and there in my former years but was always either put down for my impracticality or taken advantage of.

2020’s pandemic and my mental health issues really pushed me to finally find my way through the creative world. I needed some way of being fully recognized and appreciated for my strengths instead of constantly living through the unappreciated unseen creative extra mile efforts. 

La Catrina

La Calavera Catrina or Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. La Catrina has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.


Catrina 2020
Dark Catrina in Hazy Wellington


Catrina 2019
La Catrina en Primavera


Catrina 2018
La Casa Encantada

The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and to remember friends and family members who have died. It is commonly portrayed as a day of celebration rather than mourning. Mexican academics are divided on whether the festivity has indigenous pre-hispanic roots or whether it is a 20th-century rebranded version of a Spanish tradition developed by the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas to encourage Mexican nationalism through an “Aztec” identity. The festivity has become a national symbol and as such is taught in the nation’s school system, typically asserting a native origin. In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


Catrina 2016
La Calavera Garbancera
Museo de Historia Mexicana


Catrina 2015
La Calaca Vintage


Catrina 2014
Halloween Catrina

Wētā Workshop’s Behind the Seams

Kia ora guys, welcome to another Wētā Workshop blog. This time Jono and I came back for the “Behind the Seams: An insight into our world of costuming” experience. As we learned in the Wētā Workshop Tour Experience, Wētā Workshop is an award-winning concept design and manufacturing facility founded by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger.

Wētā Workshop has been designing and building countless costumes, from fantasy armour to monsters and superheroes, and all manner of outrageous props and make-up effects for creative industries across the world is part of our everyday for over 25 years.

Their talented crew of experts have worked on movies such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies to Avatar, Thor, Ghost in the Shell, and many more. This is an opportunity to come and see some of their work in person with a rare behind-the-scenes costume show & tell at Wētā Workshop in Wellington.

The reason why we decided to book the Wētā Workshop Tour Experience to begin with was because of an ad I saw of this Behind the Seams experience. After going through the regular tour, we thought this would be a similar tour experience as the normal tour, just focusing on the consuming areas of Wētā Workshop. Instead, it was a talk and presentation hosted by Flo Foxworthy, the head of Costume, who has been in the Wētā whanau for 15 years.

With limited capacity, this proved to be a rare opportunity. Although, I must say: I thought this was a one off experience but I think, these Behind the Seams talks do come up at times. The chat was particularly referring to their most recent works with Avatar the way of water. So it’s still a one off opportunity regarding to what was shown and talked about.

In detail, Flo and Sarah talked about a display of different costumes, outfits and designs they have worked on the last couple of years. In particular, Avatar the way of water. A lot of attendees were crafts and costuming people so it was a very special time to have the Wētā staff on hand for questions, offering some behind-the-scenes insights on the techniques used for different movie props and costumes.

Avatar

Black Panther

Similarly to the Wētā Workshop Experience Tour, because of Copy Right reasons, we weren’t able to take our own pictures of what was shown at the Behind the Seams talk. There was a photographer from Wētā taking pictures for media so if I see them around, I’ll add them here.

We did get to explore a new Private Group Tour Space of Wētā Workshop that we hadn’t been before where they displayed some more of the iconic Lord of the Rings character sculptures. Of course, we had to take some pictures.

Remember to have a look at the Wētā Workshop Tour Experience blog if you’re planning your visit!

From The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to District 9: learn about the making of props, costumes and creatures created for your favourite films. Interact with cool stuff from our creative departments and, if you’re lucky, catch an artist at work on our tour stage.

Tours, Wētā Workshop

    Happy spooky season!

    2023 World of WearableArt Show: BEYOND

    Kia ora everyone! Welcome to a magical world within the beautiful lands of Aotearoa. The World of WearableArt is a world renowned wearable art experience, where an annual design competition culminates in a spectacular show. This year I had the privilege of not only watching it for the first time but being part of the cast and crew whānau (family).

    | Theatre, Art, Fashion, Music |

    Pre-Show inside TSB Arena – Previous Year’s Garments

    The Pre-Show is quite a show itself to keep people entertained while waiting for the main show. This is a show case of previous years garments. You get to see them on stage or walk around and catch a close up picture of the garment, of you on stage or with the models. People carrying the dinner table tickets get close ups of the garments at all times. Hosts bring the models close to them to talk about and present details of each of the Pre-Show garments.

    Note: The following pictures were taken by me, except for the performance pictures taken from the official World of WearableArt website, as we’re not allowed to photograph anything during the show. It was the first time I took an event’s pictures under these conditions in low light. It was a great experience watching and getting to get close to the garments for this task.

    These are some shots of the stage from our point of view, props were brought in and out and of course, lighting was changed through the different sections of the show but this was the overall stage setup. A DJ was playing for the Pre-Show.

    The model above is Georgia and I had the privilege of sharing a dressing room with her and other four models of which I got to dress two (Molly and Zoe) through the second and third weeks of the show.

    The model above is Molly, who I had the privilege of dressing through the second and third weeks of the show.

    This unique outfit was worn and performed by Jess, I got to share the dressing room with her as well and was lucky enough to have captured this amazing performance of her in this pre-show fan favourite garment, Quantum.

    Another fan favourite of the pre-show above is a very unique garment that would inflate and deflate to show the orange peaks. The model would walk onto the stage with the peaks deflated and would reveal the final form to the audience as she positioned herself at different spots on stage.

    Again, this is another shot of the view point we had from our sits as well as the show’s program: one of the many merch gifts we received as part of our volunteer ‘thank you’ bundle. Will show you the rest at the end of the post!

    2023 Show

    WOW’s creations are showcased each night on stage in a theatrical spectacular, alongside dancers, aerialists, captivating music, and moments that will take your breath away. Each year the show has a different theme and categories. This year it was BEYOND and the categories were Mars & Beyond, Aotearoa, Avant-Garde, Open, Gold and Bizarre Bra. Each category had its own visual theme and host artist.

    Note: We’re not allowed to take pictures during the show so the following pictures are from the official World of WearableArt website.

    Garments I dressed

    Aside from the odd garment I helped dress here and there at rehearsals, the garments I dressed throughout the show were worn by two models: Molly and Zoe.

    Molly, also depicted wearing one of the pre-show garments, wore:

    • Tears Unseen by Carena West, New Zealand (which won the runner up prize for the ‘Open’ section)
    • Audrina by Jill Benson and Jenna Collop, New Zealand representing the inner beauty and creativity gain strength to fight the confines of self-judgment (Gold section)
    • Because I can by Denise Lamby, Australia made with aluminium can tabs and metallic thread, “juggling the complexities of life” (Bizarre Bra section).

    And Zoe, who wore:

    • Sugar tits by Deborah Bassett, New Zealand depicting a playful display of New Zealand iconic lollies (Bizarre Bra section).
    • One of three Messages by Jo Marie Odgers, New Zealand “Listen to the messages our birds bring us as they encourage us to connect more to our environment” (Aotearoa section). The three messages represent the Tūī, Kereru, Pīwakawaka birds, native to New Zealand.

    2023 Winner Garments

    At the heart of the show is the World of WearableArt Competition. The competition draws designers from across the globe, working in radical and innovative ways in the mediums of fashion, art, design and costume.

    Note: We’re not allowed to take pictures during the show so the following pictures are from the official World of WearableArt website.

    Supreme WOW Award

    Although I didn’t dress this garment throughout the show. I got to dress the ultimate winner, Earthling, one time at rehearsals. My first time dressing anything for that matter! I don’t think this happened purposefully but It was quite interesting to get to dress this garment first because I’m Mexican. Although it’s made by a New Zealand designer, Gil Sanders and is inspired in adult colouring-in books. To me, it was a big shout out to Mexican icons and motifs.

    For example, not seen in the picture, a piece at the back of the garment is shaped like a quetzal’s tail. The quetzal is a species that was sacred in the Mayan and Aztec civilizations and its plumage was used to decorate the clothing of kings and priests. It is the national bird of Guatemala. Quetzalcoatl (part quetzal part snake) is a deity in Aztec culture and literature.

    Other motifs depicted included: mushrooms and fungi to represent the forest; flowers and leaves to represent gardens; rattlesnakes and cactus to represent desert; bird of paradise flower to represent the jungle; fish, squid, blue lobster to represent the ocean; rainbow, sun and water to represent weather and climate; horns for animals; macaw tail and peacock feathers for birds; moth, butterfly, bee and beetles for insects; and ghost orchid as a representation for endangered flowers.

    One thing I found very interesting was a tooth on the neck piece. At first I wasn’t sure what it meant but after reading more about this garment, the heart, tooth and eyes in this garment are meant to represent mankind.

    The black and white areas represent unfinished colouring in, when you’re impatient and want to turn to the next page!

    Earthling, Gil Saunders, New Zealand

    Aotearoa Section

    New Zealand is a proud nation of tangata whenua Māori and a wide range of multicultural peoples living together on a mighty and sacred land.  

    A place that is vibrant, breathtakingly beautiful, irreverent, and innovative. Be inspired by Aotearoa’s culture, history, landscapes, native wildlife, flora and fauna. Explore Aotearoa’s mana (spiritual power), mahi (hard work), manaakitanga (respect and welcome) and whakakata (humour).

    Reflect your own connection with Aotearoa through a distinctive and meaningful work of wearable art. See Examples

    One of the models in my dressing room, Georgia (also pictured wearing two other garments) got to wear the winner for this category, a Wētā (Wētā is the common name of a very iconic insect species endemic to New Zealand) shaped garment is Child·Hood, Craig McMillan, New Zealand.

    Avant-garde Section

    Take the concept of fashion and push the limitations. Explore a world that is experimental, radical, and unorthodox. Create a work of art that is forward thinking, unconventional and explores new forms of structure and design. See Examples

    This section’s runner up, Sen No Hida (1000 folds) – the circular shaped garment, made with a folded cardboard material, red boots and hair (wig) was worn by Molly, another one of the models I got to share a dressing room with.

    Open Section

    A world with no thematic boundaries. Giving you freedom to explore and create your own design. The only limit is your own imagination. See Examples

    In this section, you can see one of the garments I got to dress: Tears Unseen modelled by Molly. It was so cool to have dressed one of the winning garments. It was the runner up for this section. All the garments have beautiful background information about the reasoning or story that inspired them. This one was made as a reflection on post-partum depression. It is the blown shaped plastic translucent garment in the second picture. Molly also wore another garment shown here from the pre-show.

    Gold Section

    As the name said, this category is all about gold. One garment I dressed for this category was Audrina by Jill Benson and Jenna Collop, New Zealand listed above. Interestingly enough, some of the garments that were submitted to this category got moved into the open category if they didn’t fit in this category fully, for example if they weren’t fully gold.

    Bizarre Bra Section

    A really fun section where every model modelled. I got to dress Molly into Because I can by Denise Lamby, Australia and Zoe into Sugar tits by Deborah Bassett, New Zealand. Another runner up, Eyes Up here is worn by three models. The model in the middle is Georgia, whom I shared dressing room and I’ve mentioned from the pre-show.

    Mars & Beyond Section

    This was another really fun and unique section for this year’s theme. As you can imagine, there was a lot of inspiration from aliens and other worldly garments. Georgia, from my dressing room wore Jeanus Terrablis by Samantha Anderson, Australia (not depicted).

    Other Categories

    Have a look at the official World of WearableArt winners page for more details of each categories and prizes.

    Previous Year’s Garments in Display inside TSB Arena

    Some more garments in display inside of the arena’s premises, before entering the arena’s stage areas. The first level had two garments on display.

    The second floor had quite a few more garments displayed. I actually missed this the day we went to watch the show. I came back one of the days we had two shows to go around and take some pictures of these area and garments.

    Previous Year’s Garments in Display outside TSB Arena

    For somebody like me that hadn’t seen the show before, seeing all the build up to the actual show was a spectacle in itself. Even if you weren’t going to watch the show, having a walk around the arena is a good idea. You’d be able to see some of the outfits displayed outside of the Arena. You also get to interact with some models wearing garments from previous years.

    Pre-Show outside TSB Arena – Previous Year’s Character Garments Meet & Greet

    As part of the volunteering perks, we were given 3 free tickets to watch the show. I brought my partner Jono, his brother Dominic and their mom, Alice. I was so happy to see her excited taking pictures and interacting with the characters wandering outside of the Arena for the pre-show. As well as watching and discussing the show with Dom, a very avid theatre fan (much like myself) and Jono.

    WOW around the city

    Being a Wellingtonian, I had the experience of going back and forth from my CBD apartment either cycling or walking for over 25 minutes tops. People come from different parts of the country or even other countries to watch the show. Many of the crew also come from different areas of New Zealand.

    Wellington City Council

    WOW as a touristic experience doesn’t stop at the show. Many places around the city offer special menus or activities relating to WOW. If you’re planning to visit Wellington in the future for WOW check out the info provided by Wellington Council. Regarding other services and activities relating to WOW as well as other Wellington tourist spots you shouldn’t miss!

    Volunteering as a Dresser

    I’ve been interested in the performing world for a long time. When I was in Mexico I modelled for a while and I’ve sewn a couple of garments in the past. I’ve even thought about getting into Costume making as a degree. Living in Wellington, I’ve heard of the World of WearableArt before but never thought about getting involved before, because of Covid.

    This year I started reconciling with many of the activities I left behind after Covid. I thought about applying as a model but after not having done much of it since Covid, I felt I wasn’t ready to jump into such a huge event. I attended a Movement Workshop offered after missing the Modelling Auditions. There, I met many people of the different WOW departments. Additionally, a co-worker at Te Papa, Ana, had been a dresser for many years. Coincidentally, I shared the garments I dressed with here for the length of the show.

    Meeting this amazing team was a great input into just one part of the extended WOW family. During the show, I got to meet and converse with people from other departments such as make up artists, models, garment techs and FOH crew. There was also dancers, aerialists, singers, hair specialists, light and sound experts and technicians, etc.

    If you’re curious about getting involved yourself, reach out for an internship in the different departments, send an email. Look out for the volunteer and audition calls for next year at World of WearableArt page and social media. Many of the crew are volunteers or interns. This means everybody is here because they love the experience.

    WOW’s Team | Careers: Volunteer/Jobs/Auditions

    Thanks Ness and thanks WOW whānau for taking me under your wing and giving me this amazing opportunity and experience to get involved.

    Thanks Di and Haylee, the dressers with whom I got to share the WOW dressing room experience. Ana, who was my contra part and shared the garments we dressed! Thanks to the lovely models Molly, Zoe, Jess, Georgia and Molly (yes, two Mollys). I loved dressing and sharing dressing space with.