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Artist talk with Zachary Ochoa

'STARRY KNIGHT!!!', 2021
Acrylic, car paint on canvas

Tell us about yourself.

My names Zachary Ochoa I am a 23 year old artist working out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I recently graduated in 2020  from the Milwaukee institute of art and design. I have primarily been working in painting exploring my trans femme identity aswell as my experience as an Afro Latino. I like to watch animated movies, dance and play video games mostly. 


Where did your passion for art begin?

I have always been interested in art and theatre since a child. I grew up drawing graffiti and anime characters I liked. I got more into performance as I got older, musicals and choir. I think I have always valued being expressive through some creative outlet. I fell in love with painting my sophomore year of undergrad. I think my desire to be an artist really started then.


How would you describe your work to someone?

I would say that my work is fragile but also an object of protection.My work mostly feels like a performance of myself, reflecting all of my most naive feelings and ideas about the human experience. I would describe it as child-like, a bit gruesome and very romantic. 

Acrylic on canvas

What are you currently working on?

I am working on some large scale paintings currently. I have been working fairly small this past year and I want to take up some space. I really want to see girl hero life size.


Acrylic on canvas


When you start a new work or project, do you plan what you’re going to create or do you improvise?  

 There is always a level of improvisation to my work and i try to always allow myself to have some level of intuitive mark making or gestures going into the piece. To see the other side of that, a lot of planning does go into the work now. I usually start with a digital sketch, go over that and plan out the background, color, shading etc. After I’m satisfied with the sketch I’ll go over into working it out on canvas.

Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an impact on you and your practice?

If I am being completely honest, my painting professor in undergrad Peter Barrickman really kind of changed my ideas about art entirely. His work is fantastic and is only rivaled by how good of a person he is. He really showed me how to be engaged with art and to be honest and to have integrity. I think whenever I am in a place of confusion or discontentment I can come to his work or his words and feel grounded. I think that’s what really inspires me and allows me to always move forward. 

What are your plans for the remainder of this year?

I am going to be traveling a bit. I’ll be showing at the New York Spring break art fair in September. October I will be in a group show at the Museum of Museums in Seattle  curated by Anthony white. Other than a bit of fun I will be diving back into my work. I have a lot of work to be made!


Acrylic on canvas

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