Submitted as part of the Women Mind the Water (WMW) digital stories project produced by Pam Ferris-Olson, in conjunction with Stories from Main Street and the traveling exhibition "Water/Ways." This story is one in a series created for a podcast in 2020-21, featuring regional artists whose inspiration blends conversation, activism, science, and water. Find earlier stories from the WMW initiative by searching for "Women Mind the Water" on this website.
Adriana Delfin, artist/muralist, grew up in Mexico City. From a young age she loved to paint and found it a good way to engage her imagination and to work through her emotions and loneliness. She studied visual arts in the School of Arts and Design at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Adriana currently lives in Cozumel where she explores the close link between body, mind, emotions, and the environment using a variety of art forms including painting, murals, street art, and sensory theater. She discusses the creation of murals, two specifically - one on water, the other on dolphins in captivity. Adriana believes that murals as a public art form provide the public with a chance to observe and learn from the artist and that it is an artist's responsibility to use their skills to let people know what their impact is on the ocean.
Pam Ferris-Olson (00:00): The Women Mind the Water podcast engages artists in conversation about their work and explores their connection with the ocean. Through their stories, Women Mind the Water hopes to inspire and encourage action to protect the ocean and her creatures.
Pam Ferris-Olson (00:16): Today, I am speaking with Adriana Delfin. As a child growing up in Mexico, Adriana loved to paint. She studied visual arts in The School of Arts and Design at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Adriana lives in Cozumel where she explores the close link between body, mind, emotions, and the environment using a variety of art forms including painting, murals, street art, and sensory theater. Welcome Adriana. Thank you for being here today. I'm really excited to have the chance to talk with you. I am grateful to Jen Ensley of the Akumal Art Festival for introducing us. Let me start by asking you about where you grew up. What inspired you to be a common artist?
Adriana Delfin (01:08): Hello Pam, nice to meet you. I am really grateful with you and with Jen for inviting me to this interview. I was born in Mexico City. When I was a little child, both parents were working all day. They were doctors, both of them. My brother and I spent a lot of time alone doing activities after school. We have a lot of time to stay just alone by our own. I guess that's all the imaginary, starting this age when I was really small, really younger. I remembered that I always want to be an artist my whole life. I always want to be an artist.
Pam Ferris-Olson (02:15): It seems to me that you're driven to telling powerful stories. What experiences in your life have motivated you to tell these stories?
Adriana Delfin (02:25): Well, I guess that the life of an artist and hard work isn't separate. I mean your artwork reflects always what you are, what you're going through in your life. Sometimes we make it conscience and sometimes we don't. I guess I started to paint when I was really young and it was an opportunity for me to focus all my attention and my emotions doing art. I had events in my childhood, sorry, when my parents get separate. It was really strong for me. I always start to keep doing art all the time. I thought that I was analyzing all my emotions there.
Adriana Delfin (03:33): Then, I had like a period of teenager confusion and some really hard time for me. It was sadness and some, I don't know, feeling loneliness. I started to practice yoga, acro-yoga, and meditation. Then it makes me be more conscious about me and the elements that were living inside of me. I just started to paint about this, the universe, how we resolve our emotions, how we connect with other people and with ourselves through movement, through activities like observing all the time, all these elements in our own homes, the water, fire, trying to understand where we come from.
Pam Ferris-Olson (04:51): That makes a lot of sense to me. How did you get interested in creating murals? Is it more challenging to work on that kind of large scale?
Adriana Delfin (05:03): Well, I've always been a moving person, making a lot of activities with my body. I think that I made it because I need to analyze all my energy and my emotions. I think that I love to start to paint in large scale because it keeps my mind and my body in action. I can feel all the movement in my body, all the work that I need to do to paint in a really large, large scale.
Pam Ferris-Olson (05:43): I can see that energy in your murals.
Adriana Delfin (05:47): Yes. I want to transmit this movement, the movement that make us change. I think that the public art is really special because you have the power. It's a really good tool to communicate to the public, but not just the public that can go to a museum, a gallery, or somebody that has art education. The public art is for everybody. You can communicate and you can sensibilize that you are in their own ways in their life. They go to work, but now they find something different that maybe makes them feel or think something. Maybe it can help change something in their minds. I feel that that public art has a really big impact. It's a tool for the artist to make, communicate in big scale, you know?
Pam Ferris-Olson (07:00): Right. What are the steps to creating a large scale work?
Adriana Delfin (07:05): Well, it takes a lot of steps. I always start by looking the place, observing where is going to be the mural. I need to know, to observe all the buildings around. Maybe they have the slides or colors that kind of helps me to design my idea. Then, I start to sketching the drawing. I always use a notebook or my iPad. I take my time to do the sketch. I want the idea that I want to communicate. I need to take really my time there. Then I choose the colors, the specific colors that I'm going to use. Then, we need to prepare the wall.
Adriana Delfin (08:13): To prepare the wall is really important. You can have your paint, the life of your painting is going to be longer. I always prepare two coats of sealer and one in white. The colors might be brightful. Then, I start to sketch in the wall. To draw in the wall there are different techniques. It depends of the time that you have to do the painting or where does it place it? You choose the technique that you're going to use. Then, you start to sketch, and then you start to paint.
Pam Ferris-Olson (09:03): Okay. Can you tell me about a particular piece that reflects on your connection with the ocean and when you're distressed? Can you describe it for those who are listening to an audio version?
Adriana Delfin (09:19): Yes, of course. This is a piece that is 15 meters long or 50 feet. It is just a texture of water. It has two [inaudible 00:09:36]. It could be the light of the sun looking from the bottom of the ocean. The other [inaudible 00:09:48] could be at the tail of a big wave. This mural is just water. I was talking about that we are 70% water.
Adriana Delfin (10:06): If we can connect with this feeling, we can learn how to slow the water because we just need to trust that we are part of this. The intention of this mural was, it was when I came back to the island after 10 years out. It was the first mural that I paint when I come back. It represents one time in my life that I need to trust in myself, to trust what I want to do. The water makes me feel like trusting.
Pam Ferris-Olson (10:57): Okay. Adriana, after you put all of this thought into the public space, into what you want to put there, and you put all your energy into creating it, how does it make you feel that unlike a framed piece of art, your mural can be temporary and might be painted over?
Adriana Delfin (11:17): Well, this is really hard when you live it by the first time, but then you understand that the public art is in a public space and you can't control what is happening in the landscape. I have a really special piece of art that I paint for the last Sea World in Cozumel in 2019. It talks about dolphin captivity.
Adriana Delfin (11:53): I paint a mother dolphin and her baby going through the water. Then, it has a message that says do not buy a ticket. It means do not pay to go to swim with the dolphins. After that, a few months, the owner of the place where I paint, she put a fence and obstruct the view of the mural. The people cannot see the mural anymore. You just can see the dolphins going out, but now it looks like if they are in the dolphinarium instead of being free.
Pam Ferris-Olson (12:47): Do you think that art can move people to engage with the ocean in more positive ways?
Adriana Delfin (12:56): Yes, of course. I mean, I come from the city and I really believe that when I live in the city, I always went to the vacation, to the ocean, and the beach. You have a really different idea of the real thing, what's going on with the ocean and the person. When I came to the island and started to live here and observe what is happening, I thought that it's really important to communicate all the people from all the world what is happening to the oceans now.
Adriana Delfin (13:40): We need to take care of them. We need to take responsibility. We need to start to do actions. Through art, I think this is a really, really good tool because everybody likes art. Even if you are not close to the ocean, maybe you can see your Instagram or something, following your artists, and you can observe. You can learn about some other things that you didn't imagine before.
Adriana Delfin (14:21): I guess that as an artist, we have the responsibility to take these tools, to let the people know what is the real impact of all the things that we have, like humans, their relation with the oceans, because that's where we come from.
Pam Ferris-Olson (14:52): Right. Well, I always enjoy seeing your work on Instagram and I hope some time-
Adriana Delfin (14:58): Thank you.
Pam Ferris-Olson (14:59): You're most welcome. I hope some time to travel to Mexico to see your work in person, maybe even make it to the Akumal Festival after COVID.
Adriana Delfin (15:08): Oh, perfect, very nice. It would be really nice to meet you.
Pam Ferris-Olson (15:13): Yes. What I'm going to do is I'm going to read the outtake and then you stay put, and we can talk a little more. Okay?
Adriana Delfin (15:22): Okay.
Pam Ferris-Olson (15:23): All right. I have been speaking with Adriana Delfin for the Women Mind the Water podcast series. This series can be viewed on WomenMindtheWater.com. An audio only version of this podcast is available on the Women Mind the Water website and on iTunes. Women Mind the Water is grateful to Jane for the song "Women of Water." All rights for the Women Mind the Water name and logo belong to Pam Ferris-Olson. This is Pam Ferris-Olson. Thank you for listening.
Asset ID: 2021.02.09
Themes: Water, waterways, conservation, art, artists, climate change, creativity, public art
Date recorded: April 5, 2021
Length of recording: 16:43 m
Related traveling exhibition: Water/Ways
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Women Mind the Water Digital Stories Project, Maine
More information: https://womenmindthewater.com/