Mao Barroteran has been a friend of our collective for some time now. He’s an artist with no small amount of creative talents—in the garden, inking the skin as well as paper—and we are so excited to present his latest collection called “Moños". This is a collection of artwork incorporating drawings and mixed-media installations. Its aim is ‘to connect the past with the present.’ Recently, we sat down with Mao to ask him about his aspirations and inspirations, what drives him and who inspires him.
You say in your artist statement, “to connect the past with the present.” Why is that important to you? Understanding and staying true to yourself is crucial. To me, that means grasping your past, where you’re from and your roots to really know who you are and shape your identity. This impacts every part of your life – how you connect with people, the career path you take, and even how you present yourself to others. As a proud Mexican, my goal is to always represent the traditional and ancient part of my heritage in a contemporary light, and this experience perfectly framed that idea. By incorporating Mesoamerican references and blending them with modern design elements such as chairs and vases, I aim to bring these components together under the same light to create strong harmonious imagery. The red ribbon serves as a unifying thread, expressing the importance and beauty of maintaining our deep connection to our roots and foundations, as we navigate our modern everyday life. My passions mostly revolve around my heritage and upbringing, so having an understanding and connection to my past, helps me achieve integrity in the things I pursue.
Your theme of a recurring red ribbon is both thought-provoking and gorgeous. What was your inspiration behind it? The inspiration for this collection struck me while walking through a cityhome residence. I discovered a small plastic bag containing a bright red ribbon. The ribbon appeared as if it had been resting inside the bag for a while, forming a striking image in my mind. As a visual artist, this bold concept depicted a beautiful and delicate essence preserved within a seemingly mundane vessel.
Tell us more about the elements of Mesoamerican art. What design elements make it unique? While I'm not an art historian, my deep passion for Mesoamerican art has been with me for as long as I can remember. What fascinates me is the blend of realistic, mystical and abstract elements in it. Much of it holds religious meaning, showing that every detail in design had a purpose and/or intention for the artisan. I try to connect with that creative process as much as I can. On the flip side, the vivid imagery in Mesoamerican art always grabs my attention. It's easily linked to Mexico and implementing elements of my heritage is essential. I aim to keep that sacred imagery alive in contemporary art, and I respectfully pick imagery, even if there isn't a direct genealogical link. My aim is consistently to showcase the beauty of pre-Columbian art with a modern and minimal approach.
How long have you been creating art and from whom do you draw inspiration? I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, starting when I was really young. My aunts, who lived with us when I was little, were into drawing and painting. No one in my family went to art school; we're all self-taught. I vividly remember early memories drawing with them and my siblings. I've been serious about art since I kicked off a tattoo apprenticeship in 2020. Over the past three years or so, I've been involved in solo and community art shows in the city. Displaying my art in public is still pretty new to me, but I'm really enjoying it! I find inspiration in many specific artists, but overall, I have a deep love for folklore, architecture, modern art, design, sculpture, among other things.
What future projects of yours are you most excited about? I’m excited about trying new things with my art. I want to take my tattooing in a different direction. I usually stick to black and grey, but now I want to add more color and push more abstract. I've got this urge to play around with wearables, and there's a possible show that will allow me to create in that realm in late summer 2024.
I'm always up for trying new stuff to keep things interesting!
Tell us what does the perfect day look like for you? Wake up fully rested by 8 am. Slow morning, achieve a gym sesh, then coffee and a bite. I would love to add an activity element to it by going on a walk to Red Butte Garden or a gallery stroll downtown. Maybe get dinner with a friend then home to decompress by watching a movie alone on my couch. Crawl in bed and fall asleep no later than 11:30pm! It has to be simple but eventful, with good food and some entertainment!
Love that. Okay, last question: how do you define home? For me, home extends beyond physical spaces; it's a sanctuary that nurtures my inner peace. It's where I feel safe to embrace my true self and nurture my creativity. Home isn't just an external location— it's a state of being I cultivate within myself. I think you can create a sense of home within yourself, something you carry inside and bring out when you need to make a space for resting, creating, nurturing, and recharging.
Save the Date | January 12th, 6:00pm-9:00pm | 641 E South Temple | cityhomeunderground