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Oscar Quinto-Zamudio, also known as El Oski, is an artist-educator who was raised in the heart of the South Side of Milwaukee. As the Director of Arts Education at the Walker's Point Center for the Arts, he influences the lives of students by instructing them on how to use art as a means of expression and protest. We posed six questions to Oscar to help you get to know him better (because you should!).


How does your heritage impact your work?

Heritage impacts pretty much everything when it comes to my artwork. As humans, we have lived experiences, and we carry these experiences every single day. It is a way in which we learn and find ways to identify ourselves. 


How does it feel to be a Latina artist in Milwaukee?

To be a Latine Artist in Milwaukee feels like being proud of where we come from. We hold close to our hearts our roots and the morality our people carry. We are hard-working and always striving to become better. This goes hand in hand when it comes to finding inspiration to create art. At a young age, it was instilled in me to make use of every single moment that we are given. Seeing all the hardworking people in the South Side pushes me to shed light on everybody. Everyone has a story to tell and they deserve the space to speak about that. 

How did you develop your art skills?

I began creating art when I was 12 years old. From simple sketches, to replicating cartoons I enjoyed watching. It was something that I did in my downtime. Never really gave much thought that it would become something truly important in my life.  But once I got into high school, I noticed the huge value art brings to the world. Which is when I began taking my art classes and then it evolved into my college years at UW-Milwaukee. There I learned even more rigorously all forms of art and their practices. Simultaneously while learning these new practices I was also being challenged to break down these skills and find informative ways to be able to teach them to any individual at any given age. 


What drives you to create?

There are many factors that drive me to create. But primarily, I use it as a voice to be able to hold conversations that are truly needed and usually ignored. Or topics that are so hard to talk about, which is why I believe having a visual piece can objectify it and make it a little bit easier to talk about the harsh realities. 


How has your style changed over time?

My style has had a slight change over time. At first, I was very fixated on making everything perfect. I would take hours on graphite drawings hoping to get the right feel to my drawings. But as time progressed I became more loose and gestural. I became fond of being able to see every paint stroke and having the audience partake in the journey I took when I created my pieces. When it comes to creating, a material that's integral to my work is acrylic paints and markers. I enjoy that acrylics dry up quickly and I am able to add layers to create more textures. 


What is the message you expect to pass with your work?

Within my work, I aim to voice out my thoughts about topics that can become very hard to hold discussions about. At the same time, I am also creating work to remind people of the importance of not taking everything too seriously. At the end of the day, we are all human and we should treat each other equally. 

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Oscar's work carries a visual duality that becomes entirely clear when one pays attention to the message the artist intends to convey. On one hand, you can observe highly political images that challenge the system and our place as humans within it. On the other hand, there are images of nature, particularly focusing on birds. Both ends of this spectrum engage in a dialogue about freedom and the methods to attain and experience it in a fulfilling manner.

You can interpret it as either a form of questioning or a silent protest, but in either case, it resonates with those who are seeking a way to break free in some capacity.


You can learn more about El Oski's work by clicking here.

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