Ant as Body / Marisa Fulper Estrada

Enamored with the mundane and the surreal, Marisa Fulper Estrada and their overactive brain question the strings of their reality and the systems which hold it. Their work moves between comics, small publications, sculpture, and writing, often blending mediums together. From Ann Arbor, Michigan and now living in Toronto, Marisa draws from their experiences as a queer non-binary Colombian-American using an avatar – an ant – to explore the world around them. 

What is your favorite daily activity? Is it a specific time of day?

Mornings are a sacred time for me — the sunlight and air hold so much potential. I check in with myself every morning, physically and mentally, through writing and yoga. It is an act of intention both releasing and replenishing energy. Writing and yoga take form in my life as a self-imposed discipline and spiritual space to connect to myself and the world around me. It allows me to process my emotions and anxieties, and make space for larger questions — be it that of dogmatic structures in our society or exploring a new project concept.

Ants are an important motif in your work. What is the origin of the ants and the sculptures?

Can you share with us some artists who inspire you?

Hormiga, my ant avatar, was born in 2018 as a means to explore my identity without my face and name being tied to it. I created a giant paper-mache ant head to take pictures and construct comics out of photography. However over the past 2 years, Hormiga has iterated and morphed to take many shapes and forms permeating into almost all the work I make: masks, puppets, alters/retablos, sculptures, comics, zines. Over our time together, Hormiga and I have grown to be more comfortable and experimental in our shape, allowing me to embody and embrace my genderqueer identity in both my art and life.

An ant is an incredible creature – inappropriately strong for its size, a traveler, a drop in the bucket, team member, a builder, undeterred by perceptible barriers. An ant never exists in solitude, it is always in community. Always thinking about my relationship to ancestors as well as collective practice, the symbol of the ant seemed intuitive. 

My most recent sculptural work is an abstraction of the ant into an ‘angel demon’. Being latinx and having a very religious childhood, many of my sculptures draw on folkloric forms and Catholic motifs. These works embody both anxieties and liberation as they float over me but also are ready to take off. They are playfully sexual and full of bright colors. With each one I discover a new idea of how to push them all forward. I hope to make enough to fill an entire ceiling!

Artists who inspire me continuously are → Michael Deforge → Hito Steyerl → Danielle Aubert → Junji Ito → Alfredo Vilchis Roque → GenderfailOffshore Studio, Melek Zertal… to name a few

Do you have a specific methodology or process for your work or life?

I hope to always be moving through this world with an openness and curiosity for new ideas, people, and connections. I enjoy a certain level of chaos, balancing multiple projects at once, but it only works for me when it is focused chaos. If I take on too many projects, I am spread too thin and get overwhelmed. I have found it is best for me to have one project that is more physical  – like the sculptures- and one that is more conceptual – such as writing or comics. In my life I aim to make and move with intention, thoughtfulness, and community in mind in the hopes of creating larger dynamic conversations and real equitable inclusive futures.

What is a perfect day for you?

The perfect day is the one I did not expect anything from but surprises me with an unforeseen moment of extraordinary — but it probably includes some creative action and a walk around my neighborhood!

Prado.® Collab Playlist
A curated list of music by artists from different places with something to share for our day.

Check the Marisa Collab Playlist