NO VACANCY

All Clothing by Tom Ford

Photography by Go Minami
Styling by Jungle Lin
Model by Flora Carter @ MUSE Models
Hair by Koji Ichikawa for LAICALE
Makeup by Ayana Awata using MAC Cosmetics

Top Image: Top by Jil Sander, Coat by Roberto Cavalli, Shoes by Lacoste
Bottom Image: Coat by Oscar de la Renta, Sweater Dress by Lacoste, Shoes by Mulberry

Turtleneck by Ulla Johnson, Coat by Jil Sander, Shoes by Thom Browne

Top Image: Suit by Adeam, Shirt by Salvatore Ferragamo
Bottom Image: Coat and Skirt by Issey Miyake, Sweater by Prabal Gurung

Coat by Mulberry, Sweater, Shirt, Pants and Shoes by 3.1 Phillip Lim

Top Image: All Clothing by Thom Browne
Bottom Image: All Clothing by Mulberry

WINDOW SHOPPING

Photography by Ruo Bing Li
Styling by Krisana Sotelo @ The Only Agency
Model Alexandra Elizabeth @ The Society

Silk green and black print dress and silk black belt worn over the shoulder by Marc Jacobs, Vinyl body corset by Alexander Wang, Crystal headband and kitten heels by Tom Ford, Spandex liquid leggings Stylist own

Sofa – Cloud by Richard Shemtov, Table – Double Zero by Richard Shemtov

Green and black print, silk dress and black silk belt worn over the shoulder by Marc Jacobs, Vinyl body corset by Alexander Wang, Crystal headband and kitten heels by Tom Ford, Spandex liquid leggings Stylist own

Sofa – Cloud by Richard Shemtov, Table – Double Zero by Richard Shemtov

Black velvet embroidered cape by Erdem, black latex cape + crystal and latex belt worn over the neck by Tableaux Vivents, crystal earrings and hair clip by Area

Mirror – Ledge by Michael Solis, Desk – Halo by Karim Rashid

Crystal embroidered colorful dress by Tom Ford, clear vinyl jacket by Philipp Plein, crystal embroidered kitten heels by Tom Ford, green spandex liquid full bodysuit stylist own, pastel pink pop socks by Maria La Rosa

Dining Table and Chairs – Margot by Sarah Fels, Stool – Jedi by Richard Shemtov

Crystal embroidered colorful dress by Tom Ford, clear vinyl jacket by Philipp Plein, crystal embroidered kitten heels by Tom Ford, green spandex liquid full bodysuit stylist own, pastel pink pop socks by Maria La Rosa

Dining Table and Chairs – Margot by Sarah Fels, Stool – Jedi by Richard Shemtov

Green and pink sequin dress with nude body cape by Gucci, Pink spandex leggings stylists own, pink pop socks by Falke, crystal sandal by Area

Sofa – landscape by Nina Edwards Anker

Pastel fur coat by Sies Marjan, turquoise sequin arm bands by DSquared2, purple latex liquid full bodysuit stylist’s own, pink pop socks by Maria La Rosa, crystal sneakers by Gucci

Cabinet – Fu Console by Nick Dine

Grey wool sweater with stones by Christopher Kane, metal mesh skirt worn around the neck by Paco Rabanne

Sofa – Deluxe by Richard Shemtov, Table – Four Forty by Michael Solis

Grey wool sweater with stones by Christopher Kane, metal mesh skirt worn around the neck by Paco Rabanne

Sofa – Deluxe by Richard Shemtov, Table – Four Forty by Michael Solis

Crystal and tulle sheer top by Givenchy, latex skirt with crystals by Tableaux Vivents, blue spandex liquid full bodysuit stylist own, crystal and mesh stockings by Area, vinyl and leather heel by Alexander Wang

Bench – Pipeline by Harry Allen

Iridescent vinyl jacket by Area, mesh nude gloves by Carolina Amato, pink pop socks by Maria La Rosa, crystal multi-colored sneakers by Gucci

Sofa – Stealth by Richard Shemtov

Makeup by Liset Garza @ The Wall Group using MAC Cosmetics
Hair by Yukiko Tajima @See Management
Production by Benjamin Price of LEO Creatives
Fashion Assistants Patrick Surach and Ashley Wooten
Production intern Louis Kang
Special thanks to Aaron Shemtov of Dune, for more information visit: dune-ny.com

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Photography by Ruo Bing Li | Styling by Connie Berg Model Manami Kinoshita @ Muse Model Management

 Blazer and Pants (With Belt) by 3.1 Phillip Lim, Earrings by Rachel Comey, Shoes by Sigerson Morrison 

Blazer by 3.1 Phillip Lim, Earrings by Rachel Comey

Blazer and Corset by Tibi, Earrings by Rachel Comey, Shoes by Nicholas K

Blazer and Corset by Tibi, Earrings by Rachel Comey

Vest and Trousers by Alexander Wang

 Blazer and Trousers by Rachel Comey, Top by Oresund Iris

Blazer by Nomia, Choker Stylist’s Own

Top by COS, Earrings by Monies

Top by Oresund Iris, Shoes by Nicholas K, Earrings by Rachel Comey

Makeup by Liset Garza @ The Wall Group, Hair by Kiyo Igarashi, Manicure by Yukie Miyakawa @ Kate Ryan Using YSL Beauty, BTS Video by Xixi, Stylist Assistants Yinka Akinmola and Belle Bakst, Production by XTheStudio, Special Thanks to Splashlight Studios

IN THE MOOD

Top: On Trevor–Jacket by Versus Versace, Underwear by Versace, Trousers by Moschino.

Bottom: On Pietro– Underwear by Emporio Armani

Photography by Greg Swales | Styling by Marc Sifuentes | Models.Trevor Signorino @ Next New York, Pietro Baltazar @ Next New York,
Thom Gwin @ Soul Artist Management, Augusta Alexander @ Soul Artist Management, Tomas Skoloudik @ Heroes Models

 

Left: On Thomas– Jacket by Michael Kors and Trousers by Kenzo

Right: On Augusta– Necklaces by Coach 1941

Top Left: On Tomas– Trousers by Philipp Plein, Underwear by Versace.

Top Right: On Pietro– Sweater by Off-White, Underwear by Calvin Klein.

Bottom Left: On Augusta–Shirt by Vivienne Westwood.

Bottom Right: On Tomas–Jacket and Trousers by Coach 1941, Polo Shirt by Calvin Klein

On Augusta– Shirt and Trousers by Versus Versace

Top Left: On Augusta–Shorts by Moschino.

Top Right: On Pietro–Sweater by Off-White, Underwear by Calvin Klein.

Top: On Thom– Jacket and Shirt by Thom Browne.

Bottom Left: On Augusta–Jacket, Necklaces, Trousers and Shoes by Coach 1941, Underwear by Calvin Klein.

Bottom Right: On Pietro– Sweater by Vivienne Westwood, Shorts by Kenzo and Socks by Stance

 

On Tom–Jacket, Shirt, Cumberbun and Trousers by Tom Ford.

Top Right: On Pietro–Tank Top by McQ, Underwear by Calvin Klein, Socks by Stance.

Bottom: On Thomas– Jacket and Trousers by Philipp Plein, Underwear by Versace.

 

Top Left: On Augusta–Tank Top and Speedo by Moschino.

Top Right: On Pietro–Trousers and Shirt by Kenzo.

Bottom: On Pietro– Shirt by COS, Underwear by Emporio Armani.

Groomers: Austin Burns using Oribe (Augusta and Trevor), Gianluca Mandelli using Kerastase (Thom and Tomas), and Wendi Miyake (Pietro) Art Direction by Louis Liu, Editor-in- Chief Marc Sifuentes, Production by Benjamin Price, Stylist Assistant Justin Dahlgren, Production/ Photo Assistant Lavoisier Clemente.

LUST FOR LUX

Suit by Roberto Cavalli, Bra by Bordelle, Choker, Bangles, Earrings, and Ring by Khiry, Earrings (small) Model’s Own

Photography by Johnny Vicari | Styling by Marc Anthony George | Model Delilah Belle @ IMG Models

Makeup by Kanako Takase @ Streeters using Shiseido | Hair Shingo Shibata @ The Wall Group | Manicure by Jini Lim using Chanel le Vernis

Jacket and Top by Sacai, Earring (large) by Jennifer Fisher, Earrings (small) Model’s Own

Jacket by Valentino, Bra by Bluebella, Necklace, earring and ring (left hand) by Lynn Ban, Ring (right hand) by Jennifer Fisher

Sweater and pants by Stella McCartney, Shoes by Missoni, Earring by Jennifer Fisher, Bangles by Roberto Cavalli, Rings by Swati Dhanak

Top and Skirt by Valentino, Earring by Bond Hardware, Small Earrings Model’s Own, Necklace by Missoni, Bracelets by Lynn Ban, Ring (far left) by Lynn Ban, Ring (middle left hand) by Chrishabana, Ring (pointer right hand) by Chrishabana, Ring (ring finger right hand) by Lynn Ban, Ring (right pinky) by Chrishabana

Dress and earring by Missoni, Body suit by Bluebella, Necklace by Bond Hardware, Bracelet by Khiry, Ring by Chrishabana

Corset by The Blonds, Vintage Necklace and arm cuff Stylist’s studio, Earring by Lynn Ban, Rings by Chrishabana

Photography by Johnny Vicari | Styling by Marc Anthony George | Model Delilah Belle @ IMG Models

Makeup by Kanako Takase @ Streeters using Shiseido | Hair Shingo Shibata @ The Wall Group | Manicure by Jini Lim using Chanel le Vernis

Trench Coat, Body suit, necklace and earring (large) by Roberto Cavalli, Earrings (small) Model’s Own

Photo Assistants Fujio Eumera and Marion Aguas | Producer Dustin Mansyur | Retouching by Cloak Studios | Photographed at Baby Love Studio

STUDIO VISITS: LYNN BAN

Top by Balmain, All Jewelry by Lynn Ban

Photography by Dustin Mansyur | Hair and Makeup by Nina Soriano | Interview by Benjamin Price

Scrolling through Lynn Ban’s Instagram profile is enough to understand the designer’s seductively ostentatious aesthetic. Heralding the spirit of modern women, Ban strikes an effortless balance of sensuality and strength, suggesting the dreams of her world within and summoning the mysteries of the world beyond. Ban has designed rings of glittering, articulated armor, ear cuffs akin to the Death Star, and minaudieres that resemble solid gold bricks; she is glamour, excess, and luxury, offset by a healthy dose of humorous self-awareness. Lynn has been influenced by the gritty-meets-glittering allure of New York, and her work is a reflection of the high energy, high-opulence, global-citizen culture of the city she’s been immersed in since her family’s immigration as a young girl. Her singular perspective transforms bold indulgences into bejeweled sophistication.

If we knew you as a child, would we have been able to see your future as a creative in the jewelry world?

As a child I would play in my mother’s jewelry for hours on end. I always saw jewelry as completing the outfit or playing to one’s mood and was always drawn to big statement pieces. Pile it on!

What motivated you to pursue a career in jewelry design? Did your family and friends influence your decision to go into design?

I was always interested in design, whether it be clothing or jewelry. My mother is a gemologist and I learned a lot about stones and jewelry through her and her collection. I started making custom pieces for myself; I was drawn to things that did not exist in the market so I started making pieces that I wanted to wear.

When would you say you experienced your “big break” and what has the journey been like since?

Working with Rihanna. I’ve been fortunate to work with her since I launched my line seven years ago. It’s been an incredible journey being able to do jewelry for her tours, videos, and performances, leading up to four seasons of Fenty Puma shows. She really pushes her team to do their best, and it’s so inspiring working for her. She is THE BOSS!

You have a vivacious, flamboyant, and daring signature luxury style, where does this aesthetic come from?

Fashion is meant to be fun and fantasy. I’ve always loved making a statement and over-the-top pieces. Who says you can’t wear sequins in the daytime? Fashion should put a smile on your face whether you be the wearer or spectator.

You have worked with some of the most influential musicians and actors in the world – how do these iconic talents change the work you produce? Do you feel your work becomes transformed when someone like Lady Gaga or Madonna wears it?

These artists definitely influence my work. They give me creative inspiration. When designing a piece, I think, .what would they wear and rock? When and how would they wear it?. Artists like Madonna and Gaga are both so influential through their fashion and many incarnations.

Many brands have decided to make their work more sustainable in an effort to combat the harmful effects of the fashion industry – how does your brand reconcile the mining and consumption of precious materials with the brand’s opulence and ethos?

I think it’s great that fashion and jewelry are becoming conscious of their carbon footprint and sustainability. I obviously use conflict-free diamonds. Jewelry is timeless, and beautiful pieces are heirlooms that retain their intrinsic value through their materials and design.

What can you tell us of your upcoming projects and collections? What direction is the Lynn Ban brand going into for 2018?

I am launching a capsule collection of evening bags. I’m super excited for the Lynn Ban woman to rock a killer evening bag that makes as much of a statement as her fashion and jewelry. I mean, what is more baller than a gold bullion evening bag? Slapping that gold brick on a table when you sit down for dinner says it all!

Currently there is a huge force of women standing up for themselves and voicing their power – how do you feel as a female designer in this day and age? Have these events in Hollywood, politics, and fashion affected you?

Most definitely! The escapism and fantasy and joy that we find in fashion is needed more than ever. In these socially and politically tumultuous times, women need to feel empowered and let those abusers know that #TimesUp.

What have you learned the most about yourself since launching your eponymous label and how has that affected your brand identity since you first began?

To always keep pushing yourself and take risks. Don’t be BASIC!

What is the future of jewelry design and how do you think technology will affect it?

Mining outer space and discovering new materials and stones.

Where do you see the brand in 10 years?

At the very TOP of course!

 

Dress by Paco Rabanne

For more information visit lynnban.com

STUDIO VISITS: ANA KHOURI

Sweater by Celine, All Jewelry by Ana Khouri

Photography by Dustin Mansyur | Hair and Makeup by Agata Helena | Interview by Benjamin Price

Ana Khouri spent her formative years between her native Brazil and the United States. First studying sculpture in Sao Paulo, Khouri later moved to New York attaining degrees from Parsons School of Design and the Gemological Institute of America. Upon completing her education in New York, Khouri traveled to London to attend Central Saint Martins, before ultimately returning to New York to set up her studio practice. For Khouri, designing jewelry is about the myriad of ways that a piece can take shape on its wearer, and the balance the work creates with the body. Ana’s designs accentuate the natural elegance and organic lines of the exquisite materials that she utilizes, and her work’s timeless quality transcends simple jewelry design into an ethereal world. Inspired by the magic of the earth and the cosmos, Khouri’s work evokes the vast majesty of nature as a whole.

What was your motivation to pursue a career in jewelry design?

While still in art school, I had a show where I presented sculptures hanging from bodies. After the show, I received an order for ten pieces to be adapted and worn as jewelry. From that moment, it triggered a significant interest in jewelry making and led me to begin studying jewelry right after I graduated in 2004.

How did your formative years in Brazil affect your life and your design ethos? Did your parents – one an engineer, and one a pianist and teacher – influence your work and your creative career path?

Yes, absolutely. I grew up between beauty and art shaping my sensibility but always having functionality in mind. Later on, after graduation, I created sculptures for many years, which is how my jewelry business first began—it was all about creating the personal connection between sculpture and body lines.

Who is the “Ana Khouri” woman and how has she evolved over time? Is there a particular person whom you feel embodies your brand identity?

The Ana Khouri woman has an interest in or comes from the art world and values self expression through accessories. My clients usually have a uniqueness about them, something that is inherently their own. They are artistic, intelligent, inspirational and strong women who connect to my world, ideas, and work.

How do you begin your creative process when designing each new collection?

My idea of jewelry goes beyond the intended purpose of ornamentation, entering more into the realms of art and sculpture. The designs are about the myriad of ways that a piece can take shape by wearing it, and the balance the work creates with the wearer’s body. I value simplicity above all else. Simplicity in composition and in motivation, as it is really the ultimate luxury. I focus on one-of- a-kind designs and limited edition pieces. My overall approach is born from the belief that jewelry has the ability to help create a deep connection with the wearer.

The history of jewelry goes back millenia and has been associated with love, war, class, magic and everything in between—how does your brand take this history into account in the process of design?

Our brand takes history into account through art in different forms. For instance, a lot of my inspiration in terms of art and sculpture come from artists like Louise Bourgeois, Calder, and Sera who have inspired me to look at shapes in relation to space and movement. But most of all, I think that jewelry should always be associated with one’s personal history. I don’t simply want these pieces to adorn, or to stand alone as beautiful objects; I want my designs to evoke their connection to space, its vastness, its majesty, yet also relate to one’s personal history.

Is technology presently shaping jewelry design (production, form or function) and how do you foresee its role affecting jewelry design in the future?

For me, the process has consistently stayed the same. The way I start every piece is still the same for both sculpture and jewelry. I start by molding them by hand; it is a very intuitive and intimate process for me. I work on making the overall piece and then find a way to add functionality. The process of design is as important as the result. I normally spend up to six months on each design.

What can you tell us of your upcoming projects and collections? What direction is your brand going into for 2018?

I focus 50% of my time on unique pieces for personal clients, which is what I love doing most. The rest of my time goes to designing the edition pieces that you can find on the “specialty/multi brand“ stores we choose to work with like Dover Street Market, Barneys, and Net-a-Porter to name a few. We have two special collaborations lined up for 2018 that I am very excited about. I feel very challenged in my work and that excites me more than anything.

 

For more information visit anakhouri.com

STUDIO VISITS: WING YAU

Jacket by Comme des Garçons, Vintage White Dress from The Break

Photography by Dustin Mansyur | Hair and Makeup by Nina Soriano | Interview by Benjamin Price

Breaking from convention, WWAKE creates a new perspective of jewelry as an extension of one’s self, personal sculpture, history, and a thoroughly modern reinterpretation of heirloom design. Wing Yau, the designer behind the CFDA finalist brand WWAKE, has successfully blended the concept of fine art sculpture with the intimacy of jewelry. The Rhode Island School of Design graduate came to New York to follow her passion for sculpture, only to find that her love of fine details and complex concepts lent themselves better to the creation of jewelry. Defined by signature shapes, unexpectedly light arrangements, and other-worldly stones, WWAKE jewelry has found a loyal following from women around the world, including notable names such as Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, and Emma Watson. In an interview with Iris Covet Book, the young artist discusses her inspirations, sustainability, and her various upcoming and exciting projects

You studied sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, how did you transition to jewelry design?

Truthfully, I thought I wanted to be a practicing studio artist—but nothing was clicking for me. My biggest challenge was making pieces without knowing who my audience was, I kept making these little textile sculptures and hitting a creative dead-end. WWAKE was born out of a need for a more personal connection. I transformed my sculptures into wearable pieces, and when even those felt too avant garde for most, I worked with more traditional materials, such as gold and precious stones, which allowed customers to have a personal, potentially lifelong, connection to my designs. My approach to design was meant to be subversive, but as I’ve built a real community behind our pieces overtime, it’s become a lot more meaningful than that.

When would you say you experienced your big break? And what has been your journey since?

2015 was a breakout year for the brand all around, it’s hard to name just one event! I was named one of Forbes 30 under 30, we picked up our first major retailers, and we became finalists in the CFDA x Lexus Fashion Initiative! All of these things gave the brand huge exposure that I’m grateful for, which has allowed me to expand my design offering and build a team that represents a new generation of fine jewelry—everyone is savvy and passionate about what they do—from the miners, to the jewelers, to sales managers. It’s so inspiring.

How would you describe the WWAKE woman? What makes her differ from your secondary line CLOSER?

Our core woman believes in simplicity and the value of art, and while she believes in the value of tradition as well, she’s taking her own distinct approach to all rituals. WWAKE and CLOSER break the expectation of traditional jewelry design while retaining the heirloom qualities. It’s jewelry to honor, with a touch of something inexplicable, a little bit of magic. The WWAKE woman is all about subtle, quiet luxuries—the pieces are designed at a personal scale, they’re not flashy or for anyone but yourself to enjoy. To contrast, the CLOSER woman wants bold, sculptural statements from her jewelry. Our jewelry is both a reinforcement of your most valued memories and simultaneously an escape from everyday life to the world of art and the poetics behind our materials.

What design inspiration are you currently obsessed with and why?

Currently I’m obsessing over the sculptural and dramatic mineral formations found in nature, like tourmaline and kyanite, opals and ethereal-colored stones—they’re worlds within themselves, and really just take me away from wherever I may be in the moment. There’s no better sculptor than Mother Nature.

How does WWAKE and CLOSER reconcile mining and consumption of precious materials with the brands’ ethos?

For me, the process of sustainability truly starts with selecting our sources carefully. I’m dedicated to working with micromining communities who rely on this practice to sustain their families and livelihood. I’ve visited several of these communities now and am happy to share that they work with environmentally responsible practices and use their proceeds to further develop their own communities. A lot of people villainize mining, but it’s an incredible opportunity for these individuals to support themselves and develop infrastructure for their future. It’s personal. My goal with WWAKE jewelry is to connect you to the earth, and every person that touches it.

What can you tell us of your upcoming projects and collections?

We’re super excited to launch our art objects this year that will bring a new layer of artistry to the brand. We will also launch our debut couture collection in Vegas this June!

Currently there are a large number of women taking a stance and voicing their power across multiple fields and industries—how do you feel as a female designer in this day and age?

WWAKE is a company run completely by young, like-minded women, and as painful as this political climate has been, it’s driven us to work harder and fight for the future that we want to see. I want to see more female designers, more thoughtful brands that design for progress and use their platforms to bridge difficult conversations, and I want to see customers that stand behind this and make thoughtful purchases.

Vintage Dress from Nice Piece in Paris

For more information visit wwake.com

DAYLIGHT DISCO

Dress by Moschino, Earrings by Haus of Topper

Photography by Justin von Oldershausen | Styling by Noah Diaz| Models: Kobe Delgado @ Click, Sasha Komissarov @ IMG, Ange Marie Moutambou @ Heroes, Emely Montero @ Wilhelmina, Anita Terenteva @ Wilhelmina

Coat by No.21, Shoes by Valentino, Earrings by Haus of Topper

Dress by Off-White, Shoes by Versace, Earrings by Laruicci

Suit and Shoes by Kenzo

Top Image: Shirt and Trousers by Versace, Necklace Stylist’s Own
Bottom Image: Dress by Valentino, Shoes by Versace and Earrings by Laruicci

Dress, Tights and Shoes by Versace, Earrings by Laruicci

Hair by Sonny Molina using Davines, Makeup by Yuui using Dior makeup, Photo assistants Matt Lesman and Elizabeth Tan

RAUL DE NIEVES

Among a menagerie of rainbow-hued, glittering, plastic beaded life-sized figures, standing like a proud father overlooking his artistic creations, the charmingly unique Raúl de Nieves shares his artistic rituals with us in his cathedral of creations.

Photography by Tiffany Nicholson | Interview by Mariana Valdes Debes

Blending the lines between the human and the artificial, Raúl de Nieves’ instantly recognizable shoes, masks, and humanoid figures are at once fantastical, desirous art pieces, yet remain relatable and human. Located in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, de Nieves has created a studio filled with beads, fringe, ephemera, and anthropomorphized beings who appear to dance and interact with each other.and it is within that studio where we met the artist and sat down to discuss his art and unique perspective.

Born in Michoacan, Mexico, immigrating to the United States at the age of nine to California, and following the winding path to New York City, Raúl has made a name for himself and cut a swatch of color through the country. In our current state of political turmoil, climate change, and war, it is a breath of fresh air to see the talent that emanates from each piece of art that de Nieves creates as well as from the artist himself.

Here, Mariana Valdes Debes, an international art promoter of Mexican artists, sits in conversation with Raúl for Iris Covet Book.

Hello Raúl!

Hi Mariana, it’s nice to talk to you.

Nice to talk to you as well, I think your work is amazing! I want to start from the beginning and ask how growing up in Michoacan, Mexico influenced your decision to enter into the world of art?

Growing up in Mexico, especially in Michoacan, was really enriching through the different cultures, craftsmen, and artisans. My family was always really pushing for us to see what Mexico had to offer. I remember seeing artisans working in their community, and I came to the United States with that knowledge and those memories. I’m not trying to emulate what I saw, but I am creating these narratives through performances and storytelling, painting, installation, and at the end it’s about creating experiences for yourself and for others to be part of.

Your exhibition last summer “El Rio” was an analysis of the western cultural view of death and the antithetical idea of death as an “ecstatic mystery of life” – how did that concept come to fruition?

I’ve experienced a lot of death in my family, with my friends, and it’s something that we all have to face at one point. My father passed away when I was very young, and it helped me understand that it’s a part of life. Obviously we mourn when someone passes away, but how do we continue to celebrate their lives and what does that mean? To understand that they are not physically here, but emotionally they are closer to me now than ever. Having a really close family member pass away is one of the scariest things, yet it’s also like becoming closer to that person. It’s something that I had to experience and move past.

The majority of your body of work is comprised of fantastical humanoid creatures made of glued beads and other miscellaneous non-traditional material— how did the decision of using these materials come about?

The bead has been utilized by many cultures, but somehow we forget that it’s this beautiful little piece of material that can transform in so many different ways. I went to New Orleans during Mardi Gras and came back with a suitcase full of beads. From then on it just made a lot of sense. All of a sudden they just started to appear more and more in my life.

Well the beaded shoes you created in your earlier work are really just to die for. Every time I see them I just wonder what it feels like to wear them.

They are actually really uncomfortable. I think that’s the best part about it—they are beautiful objects of desire, but when you actually put them on they hurt. When I wear these objects in my performances, it becomes part of this struggle to portray myself as this specific character. I don’t know, it’s kind of magical. Sometimes we want these beautiful objects, but they are obviously not the most practical things we should long for, but we still do.

In an interview with MoMA, you stated that one sculpture, Day(Ves) of Wonder, took you seven years to complete but you never gave up on it. How does the process of creating each labor-intensive sculpture strengthen or teach you as an artist, and do you think that the number of years changed the idea behind the piece over time?

The work is made completely of beads and was a very complicated piece to build. I started to make these huge sculptures and was fantasizing about what it would be like to create a full, life-size figure out of beads. It took me so long because there was a lot of trial and error. The piece spoke back to me and taught me that every time I felt like I was failing, there was a possibility that it could continue to work as long as I had the ability to go forward. Till this day, it’s one of my favorite works. Day(Ves) of Wonder derives from my mom’s daycare called “Days of Wonder”, and I was thinking how interesting it is for my mom to have these small periods of time with these kids as they grow up. I think this piece had this same idea of learning from each experience. I don’t know when I’ll have another moment to work on something for that long, or if I need to, but it really gave me so much understanding to know that every time I went back and started working on the piece, it was teaching me something in return. Maybe that’s why that piece is so celebrated, because people feel that energy within its expression and within its movement.

You never gave up and you went through stages creating the piece, becoming a master of the process.

Yeah, exactly! There’s beauty in creating this object that doesn’t have a moving life or a soul. Through our emotions and the experiences that we project into these objects, the energy that resonates with the viewer creates the idea of a life behind it. To me, the sculpture is of a seven year-old child because of the time that I spent with it and how I saw myself growing. It was an ambitious task to take on and I don’t want to reproduce another one because this piece lives on to be a celebration of an experience and a time. I still question what that piece actually continues to mean to me. That’s the beauty of art, you can work on something forever. As humans we’re constantly doing that; we’re always working on who we are and trying to figure out what it means to be human.

That brings me to my other question. Surrounded by these figures every day, do they develop personalities and life stories of their own as you become attached to them?

Yeah, of course! It’s amazing to build each piece with its own identity, and this identity can be processed through the relationship of the other works next to one another. I like to believe that we live in a fantasy world and we should give ourselves some freedom; life doesn’t necessarily always have to be so concrete. As children, we get this beautiful time of our life to dream and imagine, and then we get to a certain age and give up on that. I constantly imagine myself to be this fantastical person, even if it’s just for a moment.

The performance aspect of my work allows me to tap into these roles that I can’t necessarily inhabit on an everyday  basis. It’s a great gift to be able to perform these silly experiences or cathartic moments through these characters, and there’s comfort in putting on a mask and allowing yourself to not really be seen as human, but to be something fantastical. Having this ability to tap out is really cool and I think that’s why a lot of cultures use costumes and perform these beautiful dances, plays, and fables to tap out.

I want to ask about your use of vibrant colors. How did your very maximal use of colors develop over time?

Colors can create very emotional experiences, and I guess that’s why I tend to use so many bright hues of colors. I’m trying to learn how to really control what the color can do, what it means, and what it can put out into the world. In a way, color is like language, it allows for people to feel a certain way. The simplicity of these tools that we already have and putting them into artwork is not necessarily about following rules but following common sense and what feels natural.

Like just going toward the aesthetic of it, the feeling and the emotion that comes through the first time.

Yeah, for awhile my least favorite color was red, so for a year I only wore red to understand why. I had so many different experiences with strangers asking me why I was wearing all red. People would come up to me and try to tell me what they felt red meant to them. It was really interesting to do this exercise for a year, but I’ll probably never do it again.

Well that must have felt like a performance. Yeah, exactly. I wasn’t really intentionally trying to make it a performance, but it was a very interesting exercise. As a Mexican-American artist, how do you feel about the political climate in both countries? Do the current political events inspire or influence your work?

The current President having these views towards Mexico is very archaic. But I realize it’s been happening since the beginning of time, as hard as it is to believe. I try not to be too political about it, because I know it’s not just the United States versus Mexico; it’s the world against one another. When will it end? Who knows? You would think by now we could unite and make this place even better than it is. We are made of the same matter; we need to understand that we will be stronger together. The idea of immigration is beautiful. It has allowed me to believe in acceptance for all. It is beautiful to know that you can somehow be who you are and be accepted and be part of a new nation. That idea has influenced a lot of my work. Everyone has a different experience with immigrating, and in the end I am thankful that I was accepted into a new culture, and that maybe I can influence more people to believe that this is a positive possibility.

A quick scroll through your Instagram reveals an interest in religion and historical references. Where does this interest come from?

Well, I’m a spiritual person. I have a lot of faith, and not just in history or the idea of religion. I like feeling that there is a higher power, or that perhaps believing is what creates a higher power. For me, spirituality is a way of life and it helps to ground myself and cope with all of these catastrophes happening around us.

What do you view as your biggest personal accomplishment to date and why?

Self-acceptance. I’ve been able to really accept myself, and not just myself, but also the people around me. In a way, that’s a huge accomplishment. I think it’s self-love and acceptance that’s made me as open as I am, and as a result I can be my true self.

What can we expect next from you?

I’d like to make art more accessible, to create more experiences that can be accessible not just inside the art world, but also outside. I don’t know whether that means creating public artworks, or if that even changes anything, but I just want to really feel like there is more openness to everything.

And in 10 years?

In 10 years? Maybe I’ll have a dog.