Cassandra Mayela is a Venezuelan artist and textile designer based in New York City. Her work incorporates weaving and fabric into a multimedia process, conveying deep social and ecological themes. Here, she discusses her projects, process, and cultural perspective.
Your art-making methods require a lot of patience. How have you integrated this life skill?
By necessity! I’m a Taurus — we’re straightforward, practical, and sometimes our biggest flaw can be our lack of patience. So I’ve pushed myself to learn and be comfortable with things taking their time. I think of it as meditation.
Can you tell us more about your inspiration behind the creation of your piece Maps of Displacement?
Venezuelans are leaving our country every day, and this is not something abstract but rather very real. More Venezuelans are moving to New York (you can hear it, see it, and savor it); they’re relocating everywhere.
The Venezuelan diaspora started 20 years ago and it’s been enhanced in the last few years. People have left their homes by plane, boat, and on foot. With or without the means to survive. With or without their families. Relocated all over the globe.
I want to know who, where and how many are we, and what does that look like.
Nobody is really counting, so this is an effort to do so and to tell our story from a more human perspective.
How has living in New York changed your perspective on fashion and art?
New York shows you so many different ways of life, so many cultures and styles. I think my perspective has changed since it has grown! I have grown. This city allows you to be in constant learning, it has so much to give. I’m so happy and grateful to be here.
The art you create is resourceful, such as your piece Persephone which uses discarded garments. What advice do you have for artists to make their work more sustainable?
I think I can’t personally give advice when it comes to creativity. But I’ve found that working with discarded and more sustainable materials is more inviting and challenging rather than limiting. I extend the invitation to play with them.
The Rot Camera is an art piece/experiment/adventure that uses very intriguing mixed media. What inspired you to make it?
The Rot Camera was born as an excuse to do all the things we like to do: go on our canoe, explore NYC, write poems, and work with rust. I always say God is the best artist out there, so in a way we were also trying to collaborate with nature, with “God."
How were you introduced to weaving and what meaning does it hold to you?
When I was about 9, I took extracurricular classes at the school I went to in Margarita. We built a frame and turned it into a loom by hammering a few nails. I never forgot that experience but I didn't really pursue it either until this piece. I do want to get acquainted with weaving in a more formal way, though!
How do you remember to connect with nature while living in an age of technology?
By disconnecting (with technology). I don’t think it is a matter of remembering, but just doing.
I guess I seek nurture in nature and by slowing down. I find a lot of joy in plants, watching things grow. Paying attention to my body, stretching, and taking the time to cook for myself.