Queer Creatives

Art Beyond the Canvas

Artist Stephanie Gonzalez finds universal connection through mixed-media explorations.

Stephanie Gonzalez (Photo by Pamela Ashley) 

As a kid, Stephanie Gonzalez always fantasized about performing onstage as a musician. Somewhere along the way, however, the Latinx lesbian who is currently “in love and happily partnered” became a visual artist instead.

Her earliest memories of painting include watching artist Bob Ross’ instructional videotapes with her grandfather at his home in Reynosa, Mexico. Once she started using the techniques she learned from Ross and her grandfather, she realized she could escape the three-dimensional plane through painting.

“I started painting a lot while attending high school in Pharr, Texas. My family had moved to Texas from Mexico for a better life, and I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong there. Later, I felt like I didn’t belong in Mexico, either.”

She felt split between two worlds—both geographic and emotional. “[I also had] to deal with hiding my sexuality and identity.”

She turned to art as a form of escape. “It was while I was searching to escape that I found my true calling. There was nothing that made me feel as free [as art]. I knew I had to do art for the rest of my life.”

Gonzalez, 34, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design from the Art Institute of Houston and a master’s in painting from Houston Baptist University.

Her public murals and collections can be seen at Starwood Hotels, Le Méridien, Saigon, Lot 8, Chloe Dao Boutique, Skyline Art Services, the Make a Wish Foundation office in the Stafford area, and at Houston’s Pearl Bar.

Her list of awards is extensive, including honors bestowed by Houston’s Glassell School of Art, the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, and Rising Eyes of Texas. She’s worked in a wide variety of media, including aerosol paint, watercolors, acrylics, oil, pastels, and china ink. She also incorporates lighting and musical elements in her work.

“Art is a feeling,” she says. “It can take many forms. It is not confined to a canvas, paint, and a brush. Art is life—a way to connect with the people around us and around the world. 

Gonzalez explains that her best work comes to her through play and exploration— and it shows. Her pieces are filled with movement and inherent playfulness. “I am simply the vessel for the work. I use mixed media and acrylics to convey an idea fed to me through an unknown source.”

For her, the point is not for viewers to understand her work, but rather to be moved by it.

And it’s hard not to be moved. The colors and shapes, the lines and designs, the strokes and scraps all combine to make viewers want to linger and further absorb the paintings.

Her works are beautiful, but that beauty feels more like a happy byproduct rather than a studied calculation.

“They say good art should document the times. I also believe art can distract from the times,” Gonzalez notes. “Art can make the heaviness of existence a bit less heavy. The artists of the Dada movement took a different route and created works that did not focus on depicting [the horrors of World War I].

“We tend to forget that issues will always arise because humans fail to see that we are one. But I find it beautiful that people with different beliefs can come together through appreciating art.

“As long as we have art, we have a connection. Creating and appreciating art goes hand-in-hand with stopping to smell the roses in an ever-changing universe where the natural state of things is—and will always be—chaos.”

Gonzalez is currently working on a mixed-media series titled Geometric Landscapes, for which she is creating serene landscapes using acrylics on canvas, paper, and scrap wood. She is also working on a series titled Earth Forms.

For more information, visit megustapintarsi.com or @me_gusta_pintar_si on Instagram.




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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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