This exhibit was scheduled March 13-July 7, 2023.

While it is inspiring to see the broad array of different artistic expressions when visiting larger metropolitan art museums outside of our bucolic Central Coast, it is equally exciting to see national and international artists being given exposure here in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art’s most recent exhibit, “Storytelling” by Marela Zacarías, is a shining example of a multi-disciplined artist who has developed a unique method of creating three-dimensional painted sculptures of undulating forms that mimic the quality of fabric. Using window screen, joint compound, and polymer, she creates free form shapes and then incorporates colorful abstract designs onto the surfaces.

While her process is extremely time consuming, the finished pieces seem almost simplistic at first glance. The longer one looks at her work, the more complexity one sees.

Originally influenced by Diego Rivera, Zacarías worked as a muralist for 10 years before beginning her exploration of free-form sculpture and color. Born in Mexico City and then locating to the U.S., Zacarías draws from her heritage as well as Aztec and Mayan textiles and nature.

Striped Calathea, painted in soothing tones of greens, blues and oranges, reflects the transformation of plants.

Red Aglaonema could be interpreted as a flower bud blooming, yet has colorful geometric abstractions to create an interesting contrast.

I found the non-conforming shapes and design coloration to imbue an almost serene feeling.

While each of her pieces represents something personal to her, she allows viewers to create their own story of what the pieces signify to them. She says that she wants each person to leave the exhibit with a renewed sense of warmth and hope.

“Storytelling” is on view now until July 7 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Watch “Marela Zacaria Goes Big & Goes Home” on YouTube for more examples of her work and how she creates her pieces.

:: Toni Pruett Bouman