Marissa (Mari) Allende-Carmona
Type of Work: Fine Art
Well….I go by Mari. I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but don't really know much else about it. I was adopted when I was very young, raised in a Puerto Rican household. My parents were both musicians, university music professors, etc. My dad is also a writer. They were calling me an artist since before I could understand what that word meant. Since then I spent a lot of time a-doodling. Teaching myself new things with practice, and learning other things on accident. By the time i was 12 I had decided I wanted to tattoo for a living when I got older. When I was 16, however, I had some piddly high school romance happening. Even though I graduated early a year and a half later, I was pregnant at the time and I'd managed to ignore all the warning signs for what a terrible human being this guy was. I spent the next ten years confined to the house. No phone, no cable, no internet, no car, no drivers license, no job. I was at home. All day. Every day. For the short while we did have internet, he would monitor every message, every post, and every email. If he thought people were getting too personal, I would have to delete the account or have him sign on to my page so he could write to people as me, or post as me, to ward anyone away. So, I just parented my kids and I drew. And I was pretty sure I was destined to scribble on my dining room table for the rest of my life, as he told me point blank there was no need for me to have a job, and I could not pursue a tattooing career simply because he could not monitor who I came into contact with. After the first 4 1/2 years or so, we were unable to keep a home due to his excessive drug use, drinking, and other habits he seemed to like to indulge in. Occasionally involving other women. By the end of our 9th year, however, he was forced to let me go out and find a job, as his record impeded him from finding new employment. And so within 2 weeks I got a job as a server at Hutch & Harris! . It was required that I make as much money as working a double would provide, but if I worked passed 9, I was sure to come back to work the next day with evidence of his disapproval. Working in a restaurant/bar…..that was pretty much impossible. Although….he made certain to supervise my preparations in the morning to make sure the evidence would remain unseen throughout the day. With it being my first time out in society since my high school days, and with the daily reminder of how unintelligent and worthless I was, I was surprised at how little amount of time it took for me to realize that my home life was far from healthy. As if having a gun pointed to my face wasn't enough. I had to have people show me and tell me so. I met so many wonderful and like minded people. And every day I would go home…..it was apparent I was starting to rebel from the norm of the household. He did not like it. That too became more apparent. Until one day, he miscalculated his aim, and I went to work with the obvious sign on my face. That was my switch, as he'd hit me in the face as I was driving, with our son in the car, and I was swerving on the highway. I couldn't see through the blood in my eye. After that moment, it took another life threatening instance, quite a few officers, some more injuries, and a restraining order to finally leave him. Within a month, I had my drivers license.
But due to threats, I moved to Fayetteville, NC to be closer to my dad. Within two months I attempted a tattooing apprenticeship while simultaneously working at a Carolina Ale House. I couldn't make ends meet even having no rent or utilities to pay. The people were toxic and the drug use was heavy. The town was dangerous, just the other week that restaurant had a shoot out. And I missed Winston. The artistic atmosphere, appreciation and support for the local population. It was where I was first set free, and I had never in my life felt such a feeling of being HOME. And so I moved back. With one catch. I had no money. The kids had to live with their father. I managed to go through the court and was awarded primary custody. So at least he was kept under a lot of surveillance. I came back to work at Hutch and managed to continue somewhat of an apprenticeship there. Mostly I'm a front person, but they're refining my skills, as opposed to having to teach me from scratch. I'd already started tattooing and had a pretty good grasp on the concept. I worked from 10am until 5am the following day some weekends. I went weeks with no day off for a while. I designed the chalkboard at the bar, little drawings and designs here and there to some extra change. Of course, my ex made life extremely difficult somehow. Always going right up to the legal line, or manipulating so I had nothing to go on. And it delayed my progression. However I made it to the point where I only had about one more month to go before I had my very own place for the first time in my 27 years of life. And then I got a phone call informing me that my 8 year old daughter had found her father dead in his bed that morning, and had stayed alone with him for two hours before his girlfriend came home from work. And so things became a whirlpool of confusion and mess. This was January 24th of this year. At this point I had been working at the shop full time. I was no longer at Hutch. ! Following, came two of the hardest months of my life, as I juggled this job I was still climbing the ladder in (and am still), trying to get financially stable, and taking care of my three kids whom all just lost their dad. I had no idea how to handle it. And somehow, within two month I had us a place. My 8 year old has a passion for art just like I did at her age. I've noticed I've gotten quite tired, and my art has suffered because of it. However I met some extraordinary people just a few days ago. They presented me this group. And I am so excited for it. It's reminded me of why I came back to this place and why I wanted my children here. Just to be a part of this community is a privilege. And I am so grateful to be able to witness the growth of art in its many forms right here at home and to be able to let my daughter grow up in it and absorb this atmosphere. Even the people are art. How cool is that??? I almost didn't have the chance to even sit at my table to draw anymore. THIS?? Is absolutely FANTASTIC.
|Sells Work at Red Dog Gallery|