Gabi Magaly was born in Bryan, Texas, and is currently working toward her MFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Magaly received her BFA at Sam Houston State University in 2015. She works predominantly in the medium of photography but also employs other mediums, including sculptural installation and intervention.
With her work, Magaly draws from her experience with the toxic traditional Mexican-American culture and provide a call to action for women empowerment. Her imagery references the everyday accessible household items that are traditionally associated with her Mexican-American household: Fiesta spices, Fideo, prayer cards, candles, blankets, and tortillas. Magaly transforms a visual language usually reserved for Abuela’s kitchen and living room into defiance, empowerment, and hopefully change. Her work encourages women in my culture to find the strength to forget about the old traditions and raise their daughters to be independent.
When did you start exploring the possibility of being an artist?
It started in high school. My 2D Art Foundations teacher saw that I was doing well in her class. She told me I could pursue art as a degree in college. She pushed me for it. So, that’s when I started taking it a little bit more serious and started doing my research on what it meant to be an artist. She was the one that showed me that there was an art world bigger than what I had seen.
I went to Sam Houston University for undergrad -got a BA in Photography, so that showed me a lot more about art. Photography will be a medium I will forever love. But now that I’m at UTSA’s graduate program, I’ve explored more mediums: sculpture making, video making, car making. I’m doing a little bit of everything. I’m trying to become a more multidisciplinary artist.
Are you most creative during the day or at night?
My creativity comes at random moments. I work on my art during the day, but my creativity can occur whenever. I’ll be watching TV or listening to music, and I’ll be like, “I know what I can do with that.” I am a bit of a night owl, but I mostly save that time to look for upcoming exhibitions or new artists.
What is something you can never live without in your studio?
My sketchpad. I take my sketchpad everywhere I go. Everything goes through the sketchpad first. I then ask myself, what is the strongest way to execute this idea? At first, I relied heavily on my camera, but as my practice evolves, I now need cutting utensils or my computer with editing software.
I’d also have to say my teachers are essential to developing my practice. Particularly at UTSA, I have professors who mentor me along the way. I try taking advantage of and learn from the mentors available through and outside of the graduate program.
What is the most recent practice/technique you learned?
I’ve picked up embroidery. I never thought I would do embroidery or stitching. I started with a shirt that I wanted to repurpose as a letter to my absentee father. I wanted to use a shirt that I remember him wearing when I was growing up. That shirt took me months to finish! I also stitched my quinceanera dress – I sat in my studio for two weeks without distractions. I’m proud and happy with how my technique has developed throughout the years.
Who is a female artist you look up to? Why?
Hands down, Cindy Sherman. She is someone I’ve looked up to since undergrad. Her way of transforming into other people inspires me. Her work influenced how I embodied saints in my Saint series. I also look up to Barabra Kruger and Jenny Holzer. I’m fascinated with Holzer’s truisms and her writing. It’s so powerful yet so simple. I am working a lot on expressing myself through my writing, and I am looking at her work a lot.
Musically, Lana del Rey! She is a huge influence—the way she expresses how it’s okay to feel all the feelings. I also listen to a lot of Jenni Rivera’s songs.
What is your typical First Friday?
My ride or die, Sonya, and I hit up the Blue Star Art Complex first. We then jump over to the Presa House Gallery. I love that instead of bar hopping, its gallery hopping. As much as I have fun on First Fridays, I sometimes prefer First Thursdays because it’s a bit calmer and, well, parking.
Who would you like us to interview next?
Sonya Marie Sky San Miguel