VOA News | December 19, 2017
by Niki Papadogiannakis
WASHINGTON — Artist Carlos Carmonamedina is curious about his surroundings. Since growing up in Mexico, traveling around to Europe for school, he’s always seen the cultures in a city’s periphery. When he moved to Washington D.C. two years ago, he was inspired to create a work that represents the city’s visual identity.
“This project was for me a perfect excuse to get to know the city better and get out there and discover what’s going on around me,” Carmonamedina said. He has created almost 100 postcards in his DC series.
What was originally intended as a personal challenge, has gained popularity online and in the DC community. Carmonamedina sees it as documenting how people live in Washington D.C. at this current point in history.
“It’s just an extension of my personal curiosity and how I approach the world I live in,” Carmonamedina said. “So right now if I’m interested about how the city behaves and how the city changes, it’s natural that my art is gonna reflect that as well.”
Carmonamedina brings a perspective to the city that is different from its political reputation. His postcards include images of everyday human behavior: white collar workers taking their lunch at the fountain in DuPont Circle, a man and his child watching planes take off from Reagan Airport from Gravely Park, local musicians and artists celebrating their work at the DC Funk Parade—all parts of the city that are lost amid the headlines of Washington insiders, backdoor deals in Congress and the influence of K Street.
His ideas come from what he sees on a daily basis. He bikes around the city, looking for an area that he hasn’t been to before, and then sketches what he sees—the architecture, people and natural environment.
His most popular postcard, however, is from the Women’s March last January.
“I try to avoid any political involvement in my art, just because I want people in different audiences to feel comfortable with what they are looking at,” Carmonamedina said. “But also, at the same time, I cannot avoid to escape the fact that we live in a very political city and protests and situations that they affect the rest of the country are happening right here.”
For two years now, Carmonamedina has also sold his postcards and prints at the Heinrich Christmas Market in downtown Washington. It’s one of the few times where he gets to interact with multiple fans of his work, rather than just one at a time. DC locals come by often looking for a postcard of their home neighborhood, or they request that he visit their neighborhood or favorite part of the city to draw next.
“I wanted to reach a larger audience,” Carmonamedina said. “Before I was working mostly in gallery circuits where very few people will attend. And this project allows to me interact with a different broader group of people.”
Carmonamedina grew up in Mexico, but left for Romania when he was 24 to pursue a career as an artist. He lived in the UK, Slovakia and France before moving to Washington D.C.
“I’ve been very much into the gallery circuit, trying to get exhibitions here and there, organizing residencies,” Carmonamedina said. ”But I have always been interested in comics and illustration and I wanted to do something a little bit more down to earth which I could also reach, again, a larger audience.”
This project is different from his pervious endeavors, but his art has always had similar elements. “How I approach things like humor, death, peripheries, and how people who live outside of the typical economic cultures … behave,” Carmonamedina said. “So it’s always about empathy and having a little bit of, putting yourself in other people’s shoes.”
As his project gains popularity, Carmonamedina is looking for new sources of inspiration that represent the city not only through his eyes, but through the eyes of the community.
“I feel like, so far has been very much my perspective as a newcomer, but I want to get to know people who have been here for a longer period.” Carmonamedina said. “I’m sure that they are going to give me a different insight of how the things are here.”