Q & A

Five Minutes with Pam Chévez Zendejas

The Portland digital artist/illustrator/Maine College of Art instructor on mixing art and surfing, the power of asymmetry, and playing a tourist in her home country.

Pam Chévez Zendejas
INTERVIEW BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVE DOSTIE
hot pink textile from Puerto Escondido, Mexico

When I travel, I snap up…

textiles. A guy sold this to me out of his truck for $20 in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, south of Mexico City, where I’m from. To me, hot pink represents Mexico, and the fish — I’m obsessed with the ocean. I had just surfed for the first time in Mexico and thought, ‘I need to get something to remind me of this day.’

jarana from Veracruz, Mexico

A prized possession is…

my jarana from Veracruz, Mexico, that I taught myself to play. I played cello in music school in Mexico City. When I came here, I wanted something more portable. I play when I’m tired of the computer or when I’m homesick.

feather earrings from Emetaly Designs in South Portland

My go-to accessory is…

a feather earring from Emetaly Designs in South Portland in my right ear. Asymmetry represents a little of who I am here — even my haircut is asymmetric — the idea that things can be beautiful because they are different.

painted surfboard from Black Point Surf Shop

“I always wanted to learn to surf. When I moved here, Black Point Surf Shop in Scarborough lent me boards in exchange for painting one for the shop. Now, surfing is a community for me that feels kind of like home.”

Magic Hour on Swans Island, by Phoebe Harris

An artist I admire is…

Phoebe Harris. I met her at a makers’ market in Portland and her work caught my attention — the colors and the way the strokes flow in a way that’s not trying too hard. Magic Hour on Swans Island, 14″ x 11″, $350.

bag from Mexicali, Mexico

I recently purchased…

this bag in Mexicali, Mexico. At the market, the guy was like, ‘This is what we sell to tourists.’ But I like it because of the balance. It has the colors of Mexico and traditional weaving, but it’s fashiony and appeals to Americans. I’m a combination of things now too.

Stromae album cover

To relax, I…

Surf and listen to music. I have a crush on the French language and started learning it by looking for French music. Stromae is a Belgian [hip-hop/electronic] artist. His music is upbeat, but deals with personal and social themes I relate to.


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