Interview with Alejandra Macarena Villagra 💫

Alejandra Macarena is an **almost** 23 year old Paraguaya that specializes in illustrations and printmaking. Though dark at times, her work always seems to carry a mystical atmosphere that automatically draws your attention. In this interview we discussed how she got into artistic creation, her sources of inspiration, and the importance of the preservation of one’s cultural identity.

When did you first start making illustrations and printmaking? What was it about these mediums of artistic expression that caught your eye?
I first started drawing when I was very little, probably two or three years old. I used to sit outside of mi abuela Chona’s house and draw in the dirt or draw on mi abuela Jorgelina’s panza, I also had a little notebook I used to draw a lot of circles there. I didn’t start thinking about illustration as a career until highschool, probably my junior or senior year. I always wanted art to be some type of career.  I have been printmaking for two years now, I did have a printmaking assignment in high school y I fucking sucked at it, I took printmaking again in college it was a required class for my graphic design degree. At first I was like fuck this shit I’m gonna suck at this and all this other shit, me enoje at first. Then I fell in love with it, my printmaking teacher at Portland Community College, Michael McGovern made me fall in love with it practically. He’s super chill and the way he teaches it was great. I’ve always done illustrations because it comes easy to me and with making prints it gives me kind of a challenge and I love that. Me gusta que some of my registration is off or if i’m working on a copper plate if I have to scratch something out it takes hours and I love it.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process. From where do you draw inspiration? 
Oh my god, this question always gets to me por que the studio I make my prints at also asked me about my creative process and an artist statement and I’m just like I do things that catch my eye. I realized que algunas de mis cosas are very dark and gloomy while others are cute and quirky and total opposites. I love flowers and animals and whimsical things.

Has your experience as an immigrant influenced your creative work? How? 
Honestly, I don’t know if it has influenced my creative work but it has made me want to be better.

As a Paraguaya living in a super white town, how were you able to retain your cultural identity even in the face of wanting to fit in?
When I moved to Oregon I was six, I turned six years old on the way to Oregon. In the beginning I realized que I wouldn’t fit in. Estoy muy agradecida con mis padres que nunca me dejaron que niegue de donde vengo y quien soy. Like that part in Calle 13’s song Latino America, el que no quiere a su patria no quiere a su madre. Although I’m not gonna lie that I did really want to fit in with the white kids here, I feel that que mis costumbres y mi background were looked down on and I could never deny myself for who I am, soy mas paraguaya que una mandioca (that’s yuca en guarani). I feel like the people here are too bland, something I can’t be and will never be. I love my roots.

Which artists are inspiring you at the moment?
At the moment I’ve been inspired by graficamazatl, their work is amazing, all woodcuts or linocuts. I’m inspired by a lot of things and people but lately its been them.

You can find more about Alejandra here:
Tumblr: @makilikesflowers
Ig: @lasantasinesperanza