Art comes in many forms and mediums. Whether it be on a canvas with oils and paints, or on the street corner garage decorated with graffiti, art is a story of someone’s unique imagination and perception coming to life.
UTRGV graphic design senior Arael Meza lives his life creating art wherever he goes, and finds the beauty in the mundane everyday life.
Meza chose graphic design as his medium of expression because of its flexibility in visual communication. “Art is really complex. I’m trying to know art better,” he said.
However, for Meza, “art is freedom” over anything else, freedom of expression, thought and soul.
Taking the opportunity to travel abroad this summer with the university’s study abroad program, he was able to experience China and Taiwan in all their glory alongside professors and other students studying digital photography at Hengyang Normal University in Hengyang, Hunan Province, China.
Meza applied for five scholarships, and received four. Mostly covering his entire trip with the scholarships, all he had to pay for was airfare, making the trip somewhat affordable for a university student.
He found similarities between his culture and China’s.
“I categorize myself as Mexican, then Mexican-American,” he said. “Even though I was born in the U.S., like, all my life I have been in Mexico. My parents are Mexican, so everything I mostly know culturally is Mexican. … I find very strong similarities with the people. They are warm people.”
The only negative experience Meza had while traveling abroad was the lack of personal space, but recovered quite quickly because of its reminiscence of home.
“I kinda had that experience in Mexico, Mexico City. I grew up there, so whenever you go to the subway, it’s kind of the same,” he said.
Students traveled to major historical sites such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, capturing shots at all times due to having their cameras in their hands throughout the trip.
Working with street life and landscapes, they were also given models to practice portrait shots with.
Nonetheless, with all the beauty and surrealism of the experience, Meza said that sometimes, “I just left the camera there. I’m not going to miss this live just to take a picture,” trying to fully embrace the opportunity.
The power of photography capitalizes on being able to capture those live moments.
“Even if it doesn’t look amazing in aesthetics, I appreciate it,” he said.
For his focus on the trip, he tried to keep his attention on street photography more than anything else.
“I like to see and capture, like, how it’s happening,” he said.
Aside from studying abroad, Meza is always on the road when not busy.
Having gone state-to-state growing up due to his father being a pastor, traveling was no new song and dance for him, but recently, he said, “We have been traveling very hippie style, you know just go. You don’t need too much money to travel. I am from where I am sharing life with other people.”
One thing he would like for students to know about traveling abroad during college is its ability to mature the traveler, along with giving inspiration.
“You have to get different experiences with different people,” he said.
Meza aspires to be an artist and a citizen of the world, exploring art in its formats throughout the journey.
Happy travels, young Vaquero.