By Michelle Griego

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Ines Chapela’s art is inspired by her travels and nature but it’s her culture that is at the heart of every piece.

“A lot of my work has the influence of Mexican traditional artwork but it also deals with themes that are around me,” Chapela told KPIX 5. “Art is very powerful and we can use it to communicate and to send messages.”

Her messages lie within her prints and scarves, and like her art, Chapela’s heritage is its own unique tapestry. She was born in Switzerland to Mexican parents who relocated their family to Berkeley when she was very young.

Chapela knew she was good at art but it wasn’t until she enrolled in the Young Artist Workspace, or YAWS, at 7-years old that she flourished. The art program’s founder, Jen Burke, saw Chapela’s talent early on.

“I could see how serious she was as an artist, how much art making meant to her and how patient she was with her own progress,” Burke said.

The art camp not only taught expression through art, but explored world cultures to learn how each expressed differently and similarly.

Chapela said this changed the trajectory of her artistry as she yearned to use her own culture in her art. So, after graduating college, Chapela moved to Mexico for three years.

“I just feel like Mexico is infused with art,” Chapela said. “It’s just in the air, everything is beautiful. Everything is colorful.”

She especially felt connected to the city of Oaxaca where artists were so accessible.

“On every street, the artists have their doors wide open so you can just kind of walk in and talk to them,” Chapela said. “You can’t really help but feel influenced and inspired when you’re there. So. it’s just a wonderful place to spend time as an artist and it was very formative for me.”

Inspired by the colorful streets, she started creating and, little by little, built a business.

“It’s a kind of art form that is easily reproducible, and yet at the same time, it retains kind of an element of something that’s unique because each one is made by hand,” she said.

Chapela lives in New York now selling her prints and scarves. She’s also in graduate school and hopes to teach art when she’s done.

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot and to be influenced, you know, absorb the world around me in this way that other people might not,” she said. “And I really do try to work that into my art”

Michelle Griego

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