It took MasPaz at least ten minutes to realize he had attracted onlookers on Guild’s rooftop. He wasn’t ignoring us (quite the opposite – he’s incredibly warm and genuine). And it wasn’t because he was wearing an oversized camouflage sun hat. Rather, he was totally immersed in his work. Perched on his ladder and surrounded by blue painter’s tape, Mas Paz painted a mural that honors both nature and his Latin roots, yet can be appreciated by everyone. He likes to hand out custom-made stickers to build awareness of his art, and equally important, to build awareness of our interactions with Mother Earth. We’re proud to know this stellar human being, whose works have been exhibited throughout the world, including at The Smithsonian Institution, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and The New Museum.
Describe your style: “indigenous contemporary art.”
My style is a way for me to connect with my ancestors and represent them through my artwork. It is also a way to pass on their messages of respecting Mother Earth and all living beings. Much of the imagery in my work is of plants, animals, water, air, and clouds. Through my work, I am able to give thanks for Mother Earth’s gifts while also spreading the message to protect her.
You’ve traveled all over the word; what about your hometown of DC inspires you?
DC is my place of refuge. I came here from Colombia at the age of one year old and this area is where my friends, family, and home are. I have access to an awesome city environment, along with a close connection to nature. I lived in NYC for seven years, but memories of the green oak tree canopies behind my home in Glover Park brought me home.
Tell us about your mural on Guild’s rooftop. How does it interact with the space?
I am so thankful to be given such a beautiful rooftop location to share my art. While on the roof I was immersed in life. I soaked in beautiful views of the Anacostia River. The sky brought many
blessings with clouds of all shapes and colors and lighting storms. Sunsets would turn the mural an orange hue. Singing hawks and crows would fly by. This mural is a way to see a snippet of
wildlife that might not be seen from the rooftop and to be reminded that we all share space with Mother Nature. Let us walk lightly on this earth.
You donate a portion of your proceeds to La Casa De La Madre Y El Niño in Columbia, where you were adopted. How did your beginnings influence your art?
I was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia at the age of one year old by my mother Jennifer, a single woman. She brought me home to DC where I grew up. Ever since I can remember, my mother shared stories about my country and spoke to me in Spanish. In our house, she hung ‘molas,’ a typical Colombian/Panamanian tapestry. Everything my mother shared, plus my interest to explore my roots, have brought me to where I am now. I am an artist who has love for nature and its people. I passionately want to help others as my mother helped me.