Chuco Relic

Ursula Avila Combines Her Passion for the World with Her Other World: Art

El Paso Recognized, Award-Winning, and Environmental Artist Ursula Avila plans to change the world one art piece at a time. 

From spreading awareness of pollution in our oceans, advocating for the end of the separation of immigrant families, to becoming a promoter of a woman’s right to choose, Ursula uses her art to spread life-changing messages.

This watercolor artist and activist started her journey into the art world with Microsoft Paint and then slowly progressed to step-by-step drawing books.

“Some of my earliest memories are of drawing in MS Paint on my dad’s computer while I waited for him in his office when I was around 4 years old. So, I started drawing early on. My parents noticed, and they are big book people, so they started to buy me art books. I would copy the animals step by step until I could draw them from memory. So I always knew I liked art, and it was something I always did, but it wasn’t until more recently that I started to think about what makes me happy and to actively make more time for art in my life.”

Art has always had an influence on Ursula but instead of pursuing an art degree, Ursula received her Bachelors of Science in Biology which she states aids her in her art endeavors—especially the topics she’s most passionate about.

“I approach art from a highly emotional place, whether it be autobiographical, or related to events or issues that affect more than just me as an individual. That’s why it is usually highly personal, such as my “Tainted Hands” piece or related to activism, which I’m passionate about as well.”

One of Ursula’s biggest passions is helping the world/community understand their effects on the Earth. In saying so, one of her most recognized pieces is her “Thank You” bag image created for El Paso’s Chalk the Block where she took home second place in the ‘Emerging Artist’ category.

“The piece, “THANK YOU,” has an ironic name that serves as a critique on the toll that consumerism, represented by the generic shopping bag, has on our precious marine life, which is depicted swimming inside it as if their world wasn’t restricted by the limits of a bag.”

Ursula’s messages to the community do not end there as she has also been active in one of the biggest controversies to date—Advocating for women’s rights.

“I was lucky to have my art chosen to be displayed in West Fund’s Texas billboard campaign to spread a positive message in regard to a woman’s right to choose. There are now six billboards across the Texas border with abortion-positive messages, and two in El Paso!

Ursula uses her art to provoke thought on issues that are not so easily discussed. Her watercolor is a staple for most of her pieces because of the finality of it, yet, she states that though her medium choice may stay consistent her style is always evolving to fit the needs of the message.

“These have all been great opportunities to do what I want to do with my art, which is to spread positive messages related to activism, such as social justice, women’s rights, and environmentalism. I hope to send strong messages that transcend borders. I hope to create bridges in our human experiences no matter how different we might seem to be and feel towards others. I hope to tear emotions from my chest into a visible form.”

Personifying her emotions to “visible form” not only transcends through her artwork but with her signature logo—An evolved fish with legs.

“It kind of has several meanings. First, it’s my initial reaction after people try to calm a broken heart by saying “it’s okay, there’s more fish in the sea!”--what if I’m a tired fish and don’t need any more fish?! Secondly, I think it’s a fun character to draw as I studied biology and a fish with legs is the symbol of evolution! Third, I draw it as a clown fish because I try not to take life too seriously sometimes, as there are enough heavy things to think about, and I like lightening the load of those. Finally, and a little somberly, the character is a tired fish, tired of his home, the ocean, being so polluted! So he has a tired attitude, rides bikes, and only gets excited when people act environmentally friendly.”

Ursula’s work is in our stores and there is more to come! Ursula’s biggest dream is to create and illustrate a children’s book! We hope not only that she accomplishes this dream but that it is one of the many children’s books we have in Chuco Relic! She is one of the stores most coveted employees and has a few in-store favorites separate from her own pieces.

Working at Chuco Relic means we get first dibs on any new art or tees that find their way into our stores! These are just a few of Ursula's personal favorites from our stores that can be found at both locations!

"I love this piece by @Artwork.by.Finch! I think it captures the downtown El Paso area in the best possible way--Constantly on the go and full of life. I appreciate the detail and the presence of each stroke seen in the painting. I am from Central El Paso so I like that Finch chose to paint Paisano."

"I love the simplicity of the design and the color makes it even better."

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