Fresh cut flowers, crushed rosemary, their abuelita—Mala Hora‘s rich heritage is palpable in their work.

Gabi of Mala Hora gives us a closer look at their work as they walk us through the significance of each piece and the rich ancestral narrative within their art.

Farmer with vintage flowers Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Farmer with vintage flowers

From Gabi: “All my paintings and drawings are love letters to my ancestors, either through plants or portraits. My abuelita raised me, and one of her favorite passions besides art (she was a high school art and photography teacher for decades)—was gardening. Her favorite flowers were lilies, marigolds and roses. I naturally gravitate toward subject matter that pairs with flowers and bright colors.”

Coffee and Flowers for Breakfast Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Coffee and Flowers for Breakfast

From Gabi: Her sister, my dear Aunt Margarita, came to visit and stay with us for several months one year, and it was one of the sweetest times in my life. Every morning, she would pick flowers from my grandmother’s garden and set us each a place at the table: a napkin, silverware, placemat, and always a flower for each of us. She LOVED coffee and Bustelo was her favorite kind. I remember my grandmother saying fondly of marigolds, “Some people think they’re plain, but I think that’s what makes them beautiful.”

Spring Panther-Lily Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Spring Panther-Lily

From Gabi: “This piece is one I have been working on for a few months. Oftentimes, I will start a project, get artist’s block, work on something else, come back to the first painting months later—and then finally be in a new frame of mind to finish it. I contrasted the panther with the lilies since they are so famously poisonous to cats; for me, it symbolizes deep resilience and strength despite great adversity.”

Well-Read Coffee Cat Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Well-Read Coffee Cat

From Gabi: “Background illustrations and scene settings are two of my favorite art practices. And just a smidge above that are books and coffee. For this style of print, I really enjoy getting lost in adding texture, patterns and playing with color schemes.”

Yucca Plant Poster Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Yucca Plant Poster

From Gabi: “A huge inspiration to me are super old illustration and design manuals. I like to use them as drawing references in my attempt to bend western, historical, nonfiction books/resources that systematically excluded my ancestors to fit my own contemporary narrative and designs. These yucca plants were meticulously sketched by hand, scanned and refinished digitally. In tandem with symbiotic relationships (mine being the present and past), certain moths have evolved to pollinate specific types of yucca plants! I try to incorporate new pieces of plant trivia I learn into my work: this makes it easier for me to eventually draw them from memory and inspires me to continue being a life student of botany.”

Comics Are For Everyone Framed Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Comics Are For Everyone

From Gabi: “I grew up reading comics: superhero stories, pulp horror and science fiction. These are all (traditionally) male-dominated genres, especially when looking back at retro designs—although I think this is rapidly changing. It has taken a lot of courage to venture on my own into these motifs as an adult, but I am finally letting myself. My relationship to vintage imagery, especially as someone with mixed and indigenous family and ancestors, ends up playing a key role in my artwork. It is a push and pull, drawn in by the artistic techniques of the comic and mid-century eras, but also, it’s an attempt at staying dutifully aware of my intent to represent the past as it truly was.”

Elegant Reader Art Print by MalaHora

Featured Piece: Elegant Reader

From Gabi: “My most recent pieces are my returning to my foundations, so to speak. I am learning to be open to limited color palettes and to play more with gesture, line and movement. I have two goals this year in my practice: I’d like to go bigger, and I’d like to really work on loosening up, keeping things simpler but still complex.”