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Volume 70, Issue 145, Thursday, June 9, 2005

Life & Arts

Artist picks up the pieces to inspire others

Dealing with depression, alcoholism, Zepeda turned to art to make it through tough times

By Melissa Barrera
The Daily Cougar

We've all heard it a thousand times -- practice makes perfect. When children and novices are in the process of learning something new, it's those three magical words that always seem to reinforce even the most futile efforts.

But Houston-based artist Yvonne Zepeda knows that practice can't make you perfect at just anything, and becoming an accomplished painter isn't that simple.

"In my art, nothing is perfect," Zepeda said. "It's not about making it look real, it's about the emotions that I had inside and had to get out."

Zepeda's current exhibition, INFLUENCE, is not a result of years of practice, but instead reflects the emotional states she has gone through while battling with chronic depression. It is from that struggle that all of her dark emotions began to blossom.

In a painting titled "Merlot", Zepeda explores the vicious cycle of depression leading to alcoholism, a disease that plagued her father and stifled his future as an artist. The soft lines of the figures and the context of the piece, like much of Zepeda's work, speak to women.

"Every woman who walked up to that painting said, ‘That's me,'" Zepeda said. "I kind of cater to women."

Zepeda wasn't always a painter. She followed the path that many women, especially Hispanics, are still expected to take: getting married, having children and serving your family before all else. But she came to realize that although she loved and appreciated her family, her life was not complete.

"The day I turned 30, I woke up and realized that there was so much missing in my life," Zepeda said. "I started kind of spiraling into this depression. In the middle of losing my mind, I found myself."

When she hit rock bottom and was drinking more than she thought appropriate, Zepeda had no choice but to confront the emotions and desires she had bottled up for so long. She turned to canvas and acrylics to extract her emotions and found the act therapeutic.

"Broken Aspirations," which Zepeda said was a direct product of her drinking and depression, is a multimedia painting with shards of broken bottles strewn about the canvas. It's a dreary and depressing piece that expresses some of her darkest moments.

In other pieces, like "She Gods World," where Zepeda shows a serene female resting atop the globe, and "Wild Flower Woman," which seems to be a picture of Mother Nature in fields of flowing flora, she explores the softer, sensual feelings and aspects of her creativity.

The day-to-day efforts Zepeda makes to control her depression are all a part of rebuilding and rediscovering her true self. With each new day comes new realization about the person she is and the person she wants to be, all influencing the work she produces.

"It's already inside of me," Zepeda said. "Everyday there is an emotion that comes out. Every single day."

INFLUENCE can be seen at the Talento Bilingue de Houston Cultural Arts Center, 333 South Jensen, through June 17. The pieces are all inexpensively priced.

"It's not about the sales," Zepeda said. "It's most important for me to influence somebody else. That way they can find their inspiration."

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