Zarco Guerrero, a Man of Many Faces in Mesa, AZ

Mask maker Zarco Guerrero uses his art as a tool for positive change in the community, celebrating cultural diversity.

Chicano artist Zarco Guerrero is a sculptor, mask maker and performance artist in Mesa, Arizona, creating positive social change through his art which includes music, poetry and theater.

Guerrero has exhibited and received international acclaim and many prestigious awards. He’s the founder of Xico, Inc, the Cultural Coalition, Inc, and has been instrumental in the development of Latino Arts throughout the state of Arizona.

Watch the video above to learn more about Guerrero’s one-of-a-kind masks, or read the full interview transcription below (lightly edited for clarity).

Zarco Guerrero

Chicano Artist Zarco Guerrero

Zarco Guerrero (00:08) – My name is Zarco Guerrero. I’m from Mesa, Arizona, I’m a Chicano artist. I do sculpture, and I do mask making. And I celebrate our vibrant cultural diversity here in the Valley.

(00:25) – I work in various mediums. Here in my studio, it’s obvious that I do a lot of wood carving. I have in the past. I was on a mission for many years to carve as many masks in as many different styles as I could.

(00:43) – Why mask? Because it allows us to disappear. When I put on a mask, I feel like I’m disappearing. Zarco’s gone. Now it’s that character who has to be brought to life. So the mask conceals who I am. But now it reveals another character.

The Art of Mask Making

ZG (01:08) – Two hardest parts are getting started because, you know, regardless of how many decades I’ve been doing this, there’s always some apprehension. Am I going to be able to do this the way I see it? So you begin with that, but that very quickly fades. And you know, the enthusiasm to get it done.

(01:32) – And before you know it, you reach a point where… yeah, this is finished, or this is as far as I can take it. And getting to that point is a little bit difficult. But that’s part of being an artist. You can’t just start something, you have to finish it.

(01:52) – Well, my favorite part is, when I make a mask, making it is one thing, but to have someone wear the mask, and for that person to bring the mask to life. That’s where I really get my thrills from, from seeing that. And now this inanimate object is dancing, is breathing, is moving, is chanting. To me, it’s fascinating. It’s like creating, making my own movies.

Celebration of Cultural Diversity

ZG (02:22) – Art can be a tool to do many things. And I think we want to use it as a tool for positive change in our community. What’s fascinating about this community and probably many communities around the country, is what I call a renaissance, a rebirth of cultural celebration, and especially amongst families of Mexican descent.

(02:46) – And what’s fascinating is that a lot of these kids, these young kids, they don’t speak Spanish. They’ve never been to Mexico, and many times their parents were born in this country, yet they have this love to celebrate Mexican culture. zarkmask.com