An Interview with Artist Cece Carpio
by: Melanie Rose
Melanie Rose: How did you get started as an street artist/muralist?
Cece Carpio: I love to draw. I grew up in the Philippines and English is my second language. In times when I couldn’t fully expressed myself in words, I drew pictures and images. It was as if drawing has been my first language. When I moved to the U.S., in the Mission District of San Francisco, I got exposed to the vibrant colors of the walls in the city. I was in awe in amazement of how huge images can be drawn and how colorful they can be. I wanted to do the same. I taught myself how to paint.
In college, I took printmaking and bronze and metal sculpture and got myself familiarize with different mediums beyond drawing. But as I got out of college, I didn’t have a studio to fully execute pieces, so I started to paint again. It required less tools and equipment, and fell back in love with the medium. But I still didn’t have a studio. My brother and sister were “taggers”, so once in awhile I would go out “bombing” with them. But I always knew I wanted more than just to tag my name on the street, I wanted to paint pictures. The walls on the street became my studio.
MR: Why murals? What do they mean to you/others?
CC: Murals occupy public space. It’s an open gallery free for all to see. It is as much for the artist as they are for audience who sees them. Beyond Art, my other love is serving the people, murals allowed me to practice Art and tell stories, histories and messages of communities that we partner with. Murals allow us to claim a public space to share their stories visually, that many times are otherwise not told.
MR: What does art mean to you?
CC: That’s a big question, and always will be for an artist. Art to me is a practice, a language by means to communicate and if you add in values, Art is an opportunity to create a world we envision.
MR: How do you intend to involve the community?
CC: Our mural making has always involved a collaborative process with the communities we partner with. They are the ones that provide the stories and messages that we will visually depict. We often act as visual translators to the communities we partner with. We also provide a space to share our technical skills in painting that the members of the communities can be involved in.
MR: What about the mural are you most excited about?
CC: I’m excited to hear the stories of the members and communities of AAWAA. I’m excited to learn from them the important issues that they are dealing with at this time. I’m excited to meet the rest of AAWAA’s staff and communities and exchange stories, share our visions and execute a mural for all to see.
MR: What do you think this mural will do for the Asian American community, women artists, and/or the city San Francisco?
CC: I believe it will allow us to come together and exchange knowledge so that we can share what are the important issues that Asian American women in our communities to the rest of San Francisco and for everyone else who will see it. I hope that this can inspire the young women artists to see what various possibilities they can access and for them to continue what they are doing. I hope that they can be inspired to create work that involves the communities that they are part of. And I believe this mural will empower those who are involve in creating them and hope that it can inspire others to tell their own stories in whatever means that they can.
Want to know more about Mural Muses and see Cece’s work? Check out the campaign project page.