Chicago-based artist Mercedez Cardenas specializes in oil painting, focusing on the representation of the Mexican-American diaspora through personal memories. Documenting what she feels is important within her practice of playing with time, and the ambiguous quality of memories, she illusively illustrates moments of confusion. The artist says that her work is an “internal exploration of external experiences,” which she hopes will expand diasporic conversations surrounding people and accessibility within the art world. Working in the tradition of the inferior and the figure, Cardenas uses a variety of colors, patterns, and arrangements of objects that are inspired by Hispanic culture and heritage. Figures at the center of the composition are placed to become the viewer’s main focus. The scale of the artist’s works provides the right amount of space to present intimacy between the canvas and the viewer. The visual inspiration for Mercedez Cardenas’s work comes from Vermeer and the Dutch manifested as figures in the homes and everyday lives of the communities she depicts. Utilizing natural light, she creates a sense of serenity and airyness, while also representing cultural pride through patterns found in homes surrounding Mexico. Cardenas pridefully celebrates her roots and where she comes from. She graduated from the American Academy of Art in December 2017 with a BFA, and recently completed her MFA from the University of Chicago in 2021.