Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kej Manik'

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote, but I have an excuse…I’ve been working on a project, which my aunt Myriam and I have been talking about doing for quite some time, and we decided to stop talking about it and simply get it started! It’s still an excuse for not writing, but in my opinion, it’s quite a valid one.

The project is a shop called Kej Manik', which specializes in hand made goods combining modern and traditional materials, as well as styles inspired by the Guatemalan culture. Kej, or Manik' in Kiche Maya, is one of the most powerful signs in the Mayan calendar (Tzolk'in) and it's the sign (Nahual) of the Deer. Check out our logo below, courtesy of my partner and very talented Graphic Designer, Ricky Gonzalez.

As I mentioned earlier, my aunt and I have finally put Kej Manik’ into action. We share the same Mayan symbol or Nahual, which is the deer. So when we had to name our shop, we knew immediately what we wanted to call it (well, not as immediate as I’m making it out to be.) With Kej Manik', we seek to highlight Guatemala's unique and colorful culture by combining traditional materials with the work of Guatemalan artisans and my own art. 

At times, I experience an odd sense of fear when I think about exposing Kej Manik’ to friends, family, everyone really, as I think to myself “there are a bunch of competitors out there…what will make us stand out?” Well, my aunt Myriam helped me put my worries to rest by telling me “competition is always healthy.” I do have to say that Kej Manik’ has been a great avenue for me to explore other mediums in which to be creative in a unique and exciting way. This is the first time I dabble in jewelry design and home d├ęcor. Plus, it will allow us the opportunity to partner with and support amazing artisans from Guatemala. Many of Guatemala's indigenous artists have to leave their towns to sell their work for an inequitable amount, which doesn't cover the cost of materials, nor their time or dedication. At times, they earn just enough to cover their transportation back to their homes. The goal of Kej Manik' is to make sure that these incredible artisans get compensated fairly, allowing them to earn a fair wage so they can focus on their families and homes without having to leave them behind. The partnership will promote empowerment, creativity, stability, and an emphasis on familial bonding. We are very excited about this and can't wait to see it flourish!

On December 18th and 19th of this year, it will be the first time Kej Manik’ will have exposure as we will be taking part in Fountain Studios’ Holiday Market in New York! I’m excited, anxious and eager to see what the response will be like. All I can do is remain confident and trust that what we have put together is strong and unique. Definitely be in the look out as Kej Manik’ will be hosting a Pop-up Shop in Chicago this coming spring! I’ll keep you posted and hopefully you can join us in celebrating this eagerly awaited venture.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

When You Do Good, People Notice

I can't believe my last blog entry was back in December of 2014! Time definitely flies by! Though I rather have long breaks in between, than no entries at all.

So, not to use it as an excuse, but these past few months have been quite hectic outside of my has been extremely busy in my non-art related job. I thought that being busy in my job was keeping me from my artwork and from creating. It was keeping me from dedicating necessary time to something I love so much. All these ideas were coming to me while at work in the middle of projects and I had to quickly sketch them on sticky notes, pads of paper, on whatever I had in front of me in order to capture that creative idea and to later explore it further. I was feeling frustrated, as painting truly helps me heal and disconnect. I wasn't able to dedicate time to my art. I was experiencing a feeling of discontent and of not accomplishing or fulfilling my creativity. I was actually being quite hard on myself. I would try to paint or draw after work, but I would find myself feeling so exhausted that I couldn't even focus. This genuinely angered me because I thought I wasn't being true to what I enjoy most. 

This imbalance actually reminded me of a very important and very true statement that I learned from Oprah a few years back. It's actually a lesson we all know, but for me, it took someone like Oprah to verbalize it to make me realize how simple, yet so true, the statement is - which is: When you do good, people notice. So simple, right? Well, I realized that although my non-art job isn't a passion of mine, I still take pride in the work I do, as it greatly contributes to my reputation...and our reputation is one of the most valuable qualities we have as human beings. I realize that the work I do on a daily basis is with the purpose to help and to teach. This may not be my calling, but I do have a responsibility to those I assist and those I teach. All the hard work and good work I dedicated these past few months, was certainly noticed...and it was noticed directly by those I assist and teach. That to me, was so powerful and so rewarding, that it actually empowered me, it energized and inspired me to embrace my artwork and create within a state of gratitude and satisfaction.

You know how they say that God or a higher power has a bigger and better dream that what we can dream for ourselves? Well, this was certainly confirmed for me. Why? Because, while I was feeling frustrated and under the impression that I was not being fair to myself for not dedicating time to my art, there was this energy being set in motion without me knowing it. 

Once this extremely busy period ended at work and it was received in such a positive manner, I now have the time to dedicate to my art. While looking through my personal email, I revisited an email I had received a month ago, which I had labeled as "too good to be true" and dismissed it. This email was an invitation to participate in an Art Fair (Parallax Art Fair) in London this coming July. For some reason, I immediately thought it was some sort of scam...I have no idea why. I ignored it, but then this curiosity started peeking through. I started wondering how and why I had received such an invitation. I decided to reply to the email, thanking them for their consideration and for inviting me, but politely asking how they even came across my work and my contact information. Turns out they saw my website through my presence in Artfinder. Artfinder is a website, an authentic art marketplace, connecting independent artists with buyers who value craft, quality and originality. 

So, what's the point of me sharing this? Well, to me, it simply confirmed that regardless of what we do...if it's good, if it contributes in a positive way and it doesn't cause any harm, it will be noticed and recognized. Our intention is set forth and the universe conspires to set things in motion and make things happen. Things that we never really thought could happen to us. Becoming aware of my every intention, means doing only those things that come from the truth of who I am...and only doing what truly pleases me to do. With every experience, we alone are creating our own work of art, thought by thought, choice by choice. And beneath each of those thoughts and choices lies our deepest intention.