Zoo keeper - Sofia Prado - fills gallery with animal inspired art in downtown Merced

October 19, 2017

 "I am very passionate about animals"

Q: What type of subjects do you find yourself drawn to? Are there certain mediums you prefer to work in more than others? 
A: I have always been drawn to animals and plants. Mostly animals. I love portraying colorful, lively subjects. I work with polymer clay and recycled paper collages for the most part. 


Q: What do you think is unique about the work done in your medium?
A: I try to use a lot of recycled material in my work. In my collages for example I use old discarded books that would otherwise be in the garbage. By using the books, the art has another degree of texture to it with the printed text, colors and shapes. 
Q: What's the story behind how you got into art and how you went about learning your craft?
A: I was in college when I saw the library was getting rid of about 20 hardcover, very old books. They had new versions and they were going to throw them out if no one took them. I ended up taking all of them for no real reason other than not wanting them to end up in the trash. I tried to find craft and art ideas for old books but nothing really spoke to me. I continued to collect books in the garage of the house I shared with roommates, and knew that I needed to do something with the books as the collection was getting out of control. And that`s when the inspiration came to me. 


Q: We're there key figures in helping you get started or reach new heights with your work? 
A: I have not found too many people that work with similar material, but I am always inspired and in awe of Jonathan Woodwards magazine animal collages. 

Q: Has your artwork been featured anywhere? What was it like to see your work on the walls for the first time? Or do you have accomplishments or awards you're currently in pursuit of?
A: I have participated as an artist in art hop before and displayed my art at Coffee Bandits in downtown Merced. I have never had the honor of displaying in a gallery such as the MAH one. It`s is incredible to envision my art on the walls for the world to see, I never thought I would get this far!


Q: Are there other causes that you care about? Do you find that art can help those causes accomplish their goals?
A: I am very passionate about animal rights, conservation, sustainability and domestic animal overpopulation. Yes, art is a way to reach people who ordinarily you may not reach with information on your cause, how to help etc. I recently donated an elephant piece to the nonprofit Global Conservation Force, which was auctioned to raise money for the cause. 


Q: What do you feel makes your work stand out from other artists?
A: My use of recycled material, bold colors and animal subjects. 


Q: Do you think art can be used to help a community in other ways?
A: Of course! I think art is a tool for change. Its a way to connect to people on deeper levels, a way to start conversations about important issues and a tool to bring strong feelings of joy and accomplishments to youth, the elderly and anyone else willing to try. 


Q: Do you have plans to use your artistic skills or other talents to help a community in some way?
A: At the moment I am trying to get a small book together featuring the stories of the rescued animals that live in the Merced Zoo where I work. I personally 


will not be illustrating it, but am looking for 10 local visual artists to help me do so. This book will tell the stories and raise funds for the zoo, while at the same time, share the work of some of the community here in Merced. My hope is to create a beautiful book that Merced residents can be proud of, because we have so much talent here. 



Q: Do you have any planned projects you may do in the future?
A: At the moment I have nothing other than the book I mentioned planned. 


Q: If you could work to better Merced's downtown area in some way with art, what would it be?
A: Murals on every empty space! Murals by professional artists but also by local youth, school groups etc. 


Exhibit @MAH Epekel Gallery
1733 Canal St, Merced, CA