M. Roa

SFASF Award Artist
Portfolio Showcase

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M. Roa (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist working in tintyping, bookmaking, studio photography, sculpture, scanning and printmaking. They see making art as a spiritual experience inspired by everything around them. Their work often chooses the theme for them as they work through the creation; Roa draws on late conversations with friends, the need for a piece’s existence, community, self-care, and rage against injustice in the world.

Art by M. Roa represents themself and the world translated through their eye and their desire to make things and make a difference. To leave a mark behind that will bring joy to those they love and peace to those they do not. They use found (because historical context matters) and created materials (because its history does not exist yet) to create books (for the comfort of physically holding an object), prints (for the reverence of art on a wall), objects (to realize the existence of something) or digital work (because some things cannot exist in the physical world).

Roa’s work is realized through a series of actions by the artist: “A late night thought or idea becomes a daily obsession. I read and research for days about the concepts, objects, historical context, symbolism, aesthetics, possible interpretations, the identities involved. I dream up something wild. I reach out to fellow artists and friends for thoughts – sometimes materials. I draw it out. I write about it. I redraw it. *I ask for help. I cry a little. I love a lot. I sleep on it. I play with it. I forget about it for a while. Repeat research. I gather materials and make a plan. I make a small piece of it. I find funding if necessary. I dive in deep and don’t come up for air. It’s all I do and think about until it is done.

Artist Statement

M. Roa is a 2018 graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in Photography. Their practice has evolved into an exploration of personal histories, memory, theory, and the archive. Often referencing contexts of the medium of photography itself, M. Roa’s work grapples with concepts of the unseen, finitude, and agency of representation – at times in conversation with queer politics and socio-political activism. It is absorbed by thoughts of the multitude of lives, the perpetual in-betweens, and implied narratives as devices to alter perspectives and broaden understanding. The photographic gestures, processes and material vary for each project, but the exploration of the politics of looking – at who, or what, by who, and under what circumstances – is the inquiry that ties M. Roa’s work together.

Artist Info