This article appears in the summer issue of University of Denver magazine. Visit the journal website for bonus content and to read this article and others in their original format.
Fusing digital art with elements of nature, University of Denver alum Cherish Marquez (MFA ’20) takes a radical departure from traditional exhibitions, creating spaces for the public to interact with her works.
Marquez, resident artist at Denver’s Redline Contemporary Art Center, explores environmental destruction, ancestry and culture, history and personal identity through dynamic creations.
Her most recent solo exhibition, “Voices of the Desert,” explored environmental destruction and justice, driven by Marquez’s personal connection to the land where she grew up. Its audience was invited to not just see, but physically interact with and manipulate real and virtual environments using tactile topographic maps as video game controllers, augmented reality Instagram filters and a selection of dried plants. of the desert.
Her work has also been included in “In Sickness and In Health,” an exhibit at Denver’s McNichols Civic Center Building examining disability and illness in marriage through critical feminist and queer lenses.
The Texas-born came to UA via Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she earned a degree in fine arts and creative writing from New Mexico State University. She then attended the University of Denver and earned a master’s degree in emerging digital practices. His love for creating art, however, began long before college.
“My father, he drew a lot. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I remember walking into his office and going through his stuff and finding all his drawings and stuff. I really looked up to him and wanted to be, you know, like him,” she says. “So I started making art from a very young age.”
Marquez says she has always avoided following too closely in the footsteps of others. “I tried it, [but] drawing was never really my thing.
Breathtaking nature scenes on the covers of National Geographic inspired her to take up photography and document the world around her. Taking photos of people – primarily her sisters – revealed an intimate relationship between photographer, camera and subject that drew Marquez to the medium.
“It was kind of a window into their lives and almost a time capsule too,” she says. While struggling to find subjects to photograph in college, Marquez turned the camera on herself. Photography, more than ever, offered a fruitful opportunity for self-expression and exploration.
“I felt like I could have all these, you know, different characters and different personalities,” she says. “I think at that time, when I was 18 to 20, I just felt like I needed to do this. Identity stuff is really weird at that age.
After graduating from high school, Marquez wanted to dive deeper into digital art, but she also sought to escape her small-town upbringing. DU’s graduate program offered him city life as well as opportunities to expand his skills in coding, 3D modeling, video game design, and graphic design.
Although the fast pace of the neighborhood system was challenging, Marquez fondly remembers the bonds she forged with faculty and students at the Shwayder Art Building. “The community there — the classmates, the cohort, and even the teachers were really supportive of me, and they certainly mentored me a lot and still do,” she says.