In March 2016 I sought out Cayla Zeek after seeing her poster for a local pop-up market. I was planning my neighborhood's inaugural festival and we were in search of a local artist to create our festival poster. She was extremely easy to work with. Our festival committee gave her a list of local imagery to incorporate into her design and she quickly turned around an amazing piece of artwork. I didn't know until a month later that she had also designed the 2017 Festival International poster.
Image courtesy of Nathan Rocky
Her work is now recognized for its innovation and collaborative spirit, thanks to a partnership with Lafayette Science Museum, Lafayette Consolidated Government/LUS Fiber, and Microsoft. Cayla and Norwegian muralist Hans Hammonds co-designed a mural representing both cultures, and then used the Microsoft HoloLens to paint the mural. This mural is now part of the Lafayette Science Museum’s virtual reality exhibit.
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/matteashand/
Cayla is an entrepreneur: she earned a degree in painting from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and taught visual arts at Ascension Episcopal School while pursuing her art on the side. Along with her prints & paintings she also sells note cards, stickers and buttons with clever sayings and riffs on the vernacular - a roseate spoonbill invites you to spoon, or a patch in the shape of a sandwich identifies you as a “po girl.” Her watercolor mosaic technique is whimsical and reassuring, like the narwhal who reassures you that it “whale always love you.” This year she transitioned to a full-time creative career.
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/matteashand/
How is Lafayette/Acadiana your home base?
I've lived in Lafayette all my life, with only a two-year stint to New Orleans. I love the culture here with its unique food, music, and dancing. More than that, the sense of community has really influenced my staying here. I’ve met so many individuals who have encouraged me in my work and been a big part of learning new practices. I travel as much as I can, and bring home knowledge from the road.
What/who/where/why is your Acadiana muse?
The birds, of course! I love the wetlands birds of this area, the botany and wildlife. I would call Lake Martin my ultimate muse or at least a safe sacred space where I can take refuge when the world overwhelms me. Also, I love making paintings that embody the powerful women in my life as well as self-portraits.
Describe a perfect day in the neighborhood. What do you do, where do you go, who are you with, what are you eating/drinking?
I love walking down to Black's Cafe to have a cup of coffee and work on things/have meetings with clients. Most days I'm working in my home filling orders, working on new projects. I love cooking for others so I’ll throw a spaghetti party or make a big batch of red beans and rice, and invite friends over to listen to records, play cards, and make music.
How do you feel Lafayette supports its artistic community?
Lafayette has been very supportive of my stationery design business, Mattea's Hand. It has grown so much over these last years and has made its way all over the United States and even internationally in Australia, Canada, and Japan. It has been gratifying to see this business grow and the overwhelming support for my illustrations in this community - I am very grateful for all that support. There are many amazing people putting on markets, music performances, and events that encourage the arts.
I feel like we have a long way to go in educating the public about visual arts and finding more places to show and display work. I've found my work has often been censored for pushing boundaries involving nudity but I am grateful for those patrons here who love my paintings and am looking forward to get back into the swing of creating more challenging work this year.
Lafayette could be summed up in a handful of “alternative seasons.” Rank these in order of preference from 1-5 (1 is tops):
To find out more about Cayla and explore both her stationary business and her other work, go to CaylaZeek.com and MatteasHand.com. You can find her work in several stores around town including: Maven Womenswear, Genterie, Rouse’s, Pack and Paddle and, because Cayla has a personal touch to her work, you can make an appointment to stop by the studio and view her work.