Yunuen Perez

"When you migrate to another country, you commence to write your destiny on a blank piece of paper".

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Yunuen Perez

Country of Origin: Mexico.

State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: Too hard to choose, some favourite spots are: Wilson Promontoryin Victoria,Hobart in Tasmania, Sydney in NSW and of course Melbourne. Upon arrival: Surprised by the diversity of English accents. Photo by Nixz Kerr (2015)

By Cristy Abela

Yunuen Perez is an accomplished cross-disciplinary visual artist. Her work highlights her Mexican heritage and has been displayed in various galleries in Melbourne and Sydney. Her talent, creativity, and determination, has seen her build a positive reputation and currently she is the Senior Events Coordinator at the National Gallery of Victoria.

  Yunuen in the set she designed for ‘Exodus’ at the Bone Marrow Theatre. Photo by Sergio Villaseñor (2013)

Yunuen in the set she designed for ‘Exodus’ at the Bone Marrow Theatre. Photo by Sergio Villaseñor (2013)

Tell us Your Story

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to live overseas. As a teenager, I looked up to older sibblings who travelled for months in Europe or America. At that time, I did not quite understand how these young people went on living adventures around the world, but I knew I wanted it to experience it myself. As both my parents studied postgraduate degrees, I realized I could make my dream come true by studying a master degree overseas. Although Australia was not in my radar, due to administration problems at Tisch School of the Arts in New York, I had to consider other options. In 2008, I was accepted into the postgraduate program for Production and Costume Design at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in Melbourne. Looking back at the past 9 years, I can confidently say it was the right choice for Antonio (my husband) and I.

While studying, I worked part time at the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). This jump-started my professional career in Melbourne's cultural scene. Over the past eight years, I have had the privilege of working with internationally acclaimed actors including Geoffrey Rush and Hugo Weaving in the MTC productions - A Drowsy Chaperone in 2010, and God of Carnagein 2009. Graduating from the VCA has enabled me to be part of the commercial and independent performing and visual art industries.

  During the opening of one of Yunuen’s exhibitions at Melbourne's gallery forty five downstairs. Mex-tli, Mexican Goddesses. Created by Yunuen Pérez and Sissy M Reyes. Exhibition Opening. Photo by Jean-Marc Girard, Imagery (2013).

During the opening of one of Yunuen’s exhibitions at Melbourne's gallery forty five downstairs. Mex-tli, Mexican Goddesses. Created by Yunuen Pérez and Sissy M Reyes. Exhibition Opening. Photo by Jean-Marc Girard, Imagery (2013).

My time in Australia has been a time to cement my passion for the arts. The commitment and passion to make Melbourne ‘the art capital of Australia’ generates numerous opportunities to develop and exhibit art works for emerging and established artists. Currently, I work at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), where I find myself constantly influenced by its remarkable collection.

Over this exhilarating journey, I have met people from all over the world, some of them have become friends for life, some others have been more transitory, nonetheless I have valued their time in my life. I am living a fulfilling moment alongside my husband, Art Historian, Dr Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona. We both have an extraordinary network of friends and acquaintances including art historians, theater practitioners and scholars, archaeologists, designers and artists. Amongst them are Kat Chan and Tom Willis, brilliant peers, Eduardo Pérez and Claudia García, extraordinary archeologist and conservator, Derio and Diana, an incredible couple of travellers that are passionate about archeological digging, Sissy, my old partner in crime, and many more.

Challenges

Build your reputation - The biggest challenge has been to make a name for myself in a competitive industry. When you migrate to another country (and it happens to everyone), you commence to write your destiny on a blank piece of paper. Regardless of the practice or field, the challenge is to make your skills and experience count on this new canvas. With hard work, I can confidently say that I have built a positive reputation here amongst my colleagues, and I feel I have succeeded professionally. Having said that, I am always ready for the next challenge in my artistic practice. I am working on a series titled Mexican tales in tapestry, which highlights the uniqueness of Mexican Indigenous embroidery and weaving. These tapestries will be exhibited in Melbourne in late 2015.

Life balance - A personal challenge has been to maintain a healthy and balanced life, but hey! Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world and whether you are interested in outdoor activities or specific types of food, Melbourne has it all. It is up to you to decide the kind of life you want to lead.

Contrasts

Social structure - Australians are so diverse. However, if I had to choose something, I appreciate the sense of community here in Melbourne. Mexico's society is heavily divided in social classes and these can be extreme and unfair. On the other hand, Australia's middle class is strong and spread across industries, gender, and age. City councils in Victoria procure their citizens. As a young migrant it is hard to realize that your home country is far behind in this area.

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Yunuen playful with the raw materials for her next creation. Photo shoot to promote her next exhibition about weaving and tapestries .Photo by Nixz Kerr (2015)

Piece of Advice

Be patient - "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet" (Jean-Jacques Rosseau). However, patience is not enough, you also have to be determined. Applying to be permanent residents was frustrating, terrifying and uncertain. I must say that it was definitely not easy. The process required support from friends, counselling from experts, and lots of patience.

Commit - Success cannot be measured by norms as success is open to interpretation. Whether you seek to succeed in your field of study, sports or professional career, I believe that a strong sense of commitment and discipline will help you achieve your goal.

Discover - When we first moved to Melbourne, we were lucky enough to find accommodation in a share house with 16 international students who became our first guides in the region. They took us to all the touristic places in Victoria, but I must confess that the best discovery has been the Chinese restaurant Dainty Schezuan. Try always to discover new spots in the city and you will be surprised.

In the next few years...

Yunuen visualises herself fulfilled, happy, working in the arts, and collaborating with curators, artists, and designers in exciting artistic endeavors. This idea has already started to shape and even though it is on the initial phase, the project team in partnership with MEXVIC, is hoping to announce the launch of a Mexican artistic collective in late 2015 – stay tuned! If you wish to contact Yunuen email us at latinstoriesaustralia@gmail.com