Natalie Mendez, an 18-year-old artist from the Miami area, distills her experience as a nonbinary person into expressive works of digital art that embody the vapor wave aesthetic.
Her identity is one that exists in a liminal state: In other words, she is an artist whose identity occupies a position on all sides of the threshold. Photo-manipulation then, Mendez’s particular style of art that takes seemingly clashing images and marries them together seamlessly, is the perfect avenue for expressing herself.
Mendez’s digital collages are a wonderful piecing together of the basic elements of vapor wave: soft pastels and neon colors, distortion, glitch art and a fascination with early 1990s and 2000s web imagery. But what makes Mendez such a delight as an artist isn’t that she simply regurgitates the notifiable elements of vapor wave, but that she goes a step further and incorporates parts of her own identity into the art.
In “pretty boy,” “The Beach,” and “The Deep,” — for example — imagery of statues that look to be from the renaissance era are superimposed with lush tropical plants. The busts are a dead giveaway for her passion for art history, and the tropical plants a nod to her Miami residence.
Mendez hopes to use her art as a mirror, reflecting to the world the adversity she has faced as a marginalized individual and giving a look into how she processes the world and her experiences.
Her digital collages make up just one part of her portfolio — Mendez also creates original art both digitally and traditionally. Her digital art shines as a true expression of the self. She creates rich landscapes that giveaway a warped, almost childlike view of the world. They are pieces filled with bright colors and intricate celebrations of the imperfections found in nature.
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