When Creating Art to be Displayed in Seattle, Marela Zacarias Dove into the City's Natural Beauty

July 18, 2019

Note: This year we're featuring a number of artists involved in the 2019 Seattle Art Fair in various ways. Marela Zacarias and her studio are part of our 2019 VIP Program.

A native of Mexico City, Mexico, Marela Zacarias has created works of art that are featured all over the world. Living and working in New York but splitting time between her studio spaces in Seattle and her home country, Zacarias is currently working on a large-scale project for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.


A closeup of Marela Zacarias's artwork for her installation at Sea-Tac International Airport.

The need to experience an area to its fullest has always been a huge part of the creation process and spurned Zacarias, a member of the 2019 Seattle Art Fair VIP Program, to adopt the Emerald City as a third home while she works on it.

“In some ways, I felt like it had to be about Seattle and had to have some of that Seattle energy,” said Zacarias, who works from a Georgetown studio. “But I’m from Mexico City and live in New York, and I thought it was very important to create the work in Seattle so I hired local artists and people in Seattle to help me make it.”

The project titled Chalchiutlicue, in her style of molded window screens and plaster, will span nearly 300 feet in the International Arrival Facility at Sea-Tac. From initial commission, it'll take 20 months to complete and has involved her entire team of 15-20 artists. 

Her team of artists at her Seattle studio working on the window screen molds.

“It was a huge honor to get this commission because the project is going to be in a very public space and welcoming everyone who’s coming into the country,” Zacarias said of the work that is slated to be installed in May of 2020. “The whole piece is dedicated to bodies of water in Seattle. For me, it has been an experience and allows me to get to know the city.”

Zacarias, who earlier in her career was much more focused on murals and two-dimensional creations has since expanded her work to have much more of a textured and living feel. But no matter how the physical form has developed over the years, it’s always been based firmly upon its intended location.

“I do a lot of big installations and site-specific work, so I try to look at the specific space and ask ‘What about it do I want to research or emphasize or bring out?’ For here, it was nature and mountains and water and the surrounding area and the connections people have to these bodies of water.”
Marela Zacarias explaining the inspiration behind her installation.

The Seattle experience has been its beautiful natural gifts – and it’s the experiential side of creation that Zacarias holds onto, wherever she has worked.

“My mentor, [esteemed New York-based abstract painter] Emily Mason, says ‘Every painting is the experience of painting it.’ Every sculpture is the experience of making it.”

The 2019 Seattle Art Fair will take place from August 1-4 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. Tickets are on sale now.