Young student pursues feminist themes in art


Art major. Bookworm. Feminist.

Pima Community College art student Mercedes Vega has learned that
she can stay in Tucson and still succeed in her chosen field of study.
Photos courtesy of Mercedes Vega

Those are just a few words to describe 18-year-old Pima Community College student Mercedes Vega.

Vega, a middle child of six, started drawing at a young age. Instead of playing outside, she could be found in her room, drawing and reading.

One early memory is from third grade.

“I would fold papers together into a book, and write stories and illustrate them,” she said. “At nighttime, I would read the stories to my siblings.”

During her junior year of high school, she decided to pursue art in college.

This led to daily doodles to improve her technique.

Eventually, Vega started posting her art on Snapchat.

“I didn’t think much about it until several people replied that they loved my drawings,” she said.

This led to her making an art Instagram. She didn’t know she had a style until more people started saying they loved it.

Vega believes social media is a great way for all types of artists to share their work and become better known.

Her Instagram drawings mostly depict women.

Any surface can be Vega’s canvas, as shown when she paints a female’s
bare back with a colorful flower theme. Her art mainly depicts women.

“I enjoy their features and with the variety of women out there, it makes my work a little different every time,” she said.

Vega’s goal is to take what she reads from books like “Bad Feminist” and “How to be a Woman” and use what she has learned about being a female. She wants to use her art to show people what women really are.

She has discovered she does not have to move to a bigger city to be a successful artist. Tucson classes are introducing her to local events, programs and opportunities.

One such opportunity was meeting Betzahira Leon, 17, at an art show Vega hosted in 2016. The two first came across each other’s paths on social media, and became instant friends.

“I just think that Mercy and I clicked on friendly terms, rather than artistic,” Leon said. “She’s actually inspired me to be more open about my art, like by sharing stuff on social media.”

Leon said Vega has taught her a handful of things relating to art.

“Ever since her showcase, I’ve really seen her grow and strengthen her skills,” Leon said. “I feel she’s been a great influence to her following, by exposing them to feminist topics in her artwork.”

Samples of Vega’s work shows her feminist views. One piece reads, “Oh
… that poor pathetic boy actually thinks his opinion matters to me?!”

Vega is collaborating with other female artists to plan for an art show in California.

She also dreams of writing and illustrating her own book. She envisions a book for outcasts, dedicated to the young girls who stay inside and read.

“I want to make a book that is age appropriate and full of colors and illustrations,” Vega said.

Her goal?

To “inspire and teach young girls that they are all badass.”

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