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Juliana Mercado: Artsy Humanitarian

Juliana Mercado, a senior studio art student at Florida State, has made quite the impact on Tallahassee with her talents. A native of Miami, Florida, Juliana has always loved art. Recently, Julianna won the Humanitarian of the Year award from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance at Florida State University. Her Campus recently had the opportunity to sit down and discuss her humanitarian efforts and art with her.

Her Campus (HC): What got you so interested in art?

Juliana Mercado (JM): Well, in middle school I used to do it for fun and I would watch cartoons and try to emulate them. I applied to be in the magnet program for the arts at a high school in Miami and once I got into the program I was the least talented skill-wise. As I started putting in a lot of effort because I was so embarrassed, I realized how much fun fine arts were. I learned that I could express myself through my art work, which definitely helps because I’m not a very vocal person to begin with.

HC: What is your favorite way of making art- paint, sculpting, drawing, etc.?

JM: I guess my favorite way is painting. I’m really interested in mark making (expressive paint strokes) and I like to express myself through that by using my full arm and making different strokes. When I paint I get into this “zone,” I don’t really know how to describe it, but I just basically focus on the paint and what it is doing on the canvas and it really helps me to relax.

HC: What was the project that you received your nomination for Humanitarian of the Year Award?

JM: So, in one of my classes, I met these two grad students, Michael and Peter, and they had installed a big piece of painted wood that looked like a piece of notebook paper in the Art Alleys off of Gaines Street that said, “What do you need?” I thought it was really cool and after that I was interested in how it directly engaged the community and gave the community a voice, and wasn’t just a piece of art that hung on a gallery wall. It invited individuality to participate and play an active role in the art. So I started talking to Michael and Peter and they invited me to help with this project, where we decided to address what was said on the board, to provide a service. So we came up with this store called “For What It’s Worth.” It became an installation performance-based community project where we would provide services and goods to community members and instead of accepting money for these goods, we would trade it for songs, stories, conversations, etc. We were just trying to directly engage with the community in that area. There are a lot of homeless people around there, so it was a way to directly address the needs of the community in our own artsy way.

HC: What made you realize that you wanted to do this community outreach project?

JM: Before the project, I was really unhappy with myself as an artist and sort of dissatisfied with what my artwork was doing and the traditional gallery space. And this was so different for me and what I was used to do as an artist so I felt that this would be more worthwhile than just creating a nice painting that hangs on a wall.

HC: Do you plan to continue your humanitarian efforts outside of Tallahassee?

JM:  I want to create more art work that directly engages with the community. I feel that this is the first step and I am very interested in creating connections with others through art.

HC: What do you plan on doing after graduation?

JM: *Giggles.* I think I want to take some time to really think about where I want my art work to go before I decide on applying to art therapy programs or graduate school for fine art programs. I want to travel and sort of develop myself personally as well because I think that will feed into my artwork and help it develop and grow. 

Hi, my name is Hilary. I am a graduate student at The Florida State University, studying Urban and Regional Planning. I completed my undergraduate studies in International Affairs. I am very interested in global issues and plan to join the Peace Corps in 2014. I enjoy spending time with friends, music, movies, and following my favorite sports teams.
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