Local Artist Spotlight: Meet Eugenia Nicole and her zine, Corazón Vecino!
Can you tell us a little about yourself? (where you grew up, some personal hobbies/interests, something you’re passionate about, and/or fun facts about you)
My name is Nicole Macias, my friends call me Nicole, but my pen name is Eugenia, after my late mother Eugenia Hernandez. Everything I do, I do for her! My family moved around a lot when I was younger, but my family has roots in Los Angeles and I grew up in NELA until I was about 13 years old. I spent my formative years from 13-18 in Hanford, California, that's the Central Valley, for those unfamiliar with the name. It was such a tough transition, moving from the city to the country, so I knew that as soon as I graduated high school, I was moving back to HLP. That experience has played a big role in my writing.
I looove thrifting, traveling, reading, hoarding new plants and spending time out in nature with my friends. Oh, and I love a good cocktail!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've always been a writer! I've always known that I wanted to get paid to do what I love. My mother instilled the power of communication within me at a very young age. She always told me that whatever I was feeling inside, whether it be good or bad, I should always write down and express how I felt. She was very creative herself, but because of her responsibilities as a single mother, she didn't get much time to express herself creatively, and she made sure that I kept that outlet available for myself.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
There are two things I love about writing, the first, is the therapeutic practice I've developed because it. I've kept a journal/diary ever since I learned how to write, and it's been one of the best forms of therapy for me, plus it's free! When you write, without judgement, without worrying about your audience, you really get to break down your day, your emotions, your triggers, things/conversations/feelings/
The second thing I love about writing is how many people I've met and shared connections with because of it. Aside from journalism gigs, my personal writing is something that I always kept for myself. Until maybe about 5/6 years ago, I decided to start sharing my work publicly, online, on my website and eventually through self-publishing. I shared some very personal experiences, losing my mother, having your heart broken, traveling, and just finding yourself in all those moments. I showed my friends, family and complete strangers a very vulnerable side of myself, things that I would normally only write in my journals. It was scary af! But it was also a relief, so many people reached out to me and shared similar experiences, and those connections made me feel a little less lonely in those moments. We all go through a lot of the same joys and hardships, at the end of the day, we all want to be loved and appreciated. And if sharing my experiences and making connections with other people will make them feel a little less lonely, then that's all the drive I need to continue writing.
What was and/or is your inspiration for your current zine, Corazón Vecino?
Definitely love! I'm such a hopeless romantic and I love all things LOVE, the good kind, the kind that hurts, the kind that makes us stronger, the kind that teaches us lessons. I started writing CV in the Spring of last year, right when all the covid crazy was still very new to everyone. I was dating someone from my childhood, someone I never expected to have any sort of relationship with other than just seeing their photos on the gram, and because of the initial stay-at-home orders, I didn't allow them to see me for like 2 months or something! We literally started dating a month or two before all the crazy happened. But he was persistent, and kept doing really sweet, romantic gestures, like sending me roses and having food delivered while I was working from home and just checking in on me and my mental health daily. One day he said something really sweet like "I don't want to let covid kill something that was just about to bloom." and I couldn't forget that. So I started thinking a lot about love in the time of corona, I even had a stupid thing on my gram that I called "Rona Romeo" where I'd highlight cute things he was doing to make sure I wouldn't forget about what we started before the lockdown. And it was so liberating to feel this sense of love and security in such a wild time. Families weren't able to see each other, if you lived alone, like I did, it was a pretty lonely and scary time. I had my chihuahua Sushi, who I've had for 16 years, and she definitely was a source of comfort and camaraderie for me, but in the summer, her health declined exponentially and she eventually ended up passing away 10 days after my birthday. And Rona Romeo was there holding me through every moment of it.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process for your zine, Corazón Vecino?
I'm the type of writer that needs to pull myself out of a situation to be able to write about it. When I travel, I write down bits and pieces of things I know will turn into stories, but it isn't until I'm back home that I actually begin the process. The same goes for when I write about love. I've always written from a place of pain (so sad, but true!), or from a situation that ended, like Fiona Apple sings, "oh the periphery". I have never actually written about love in the present tense, so that was new and a little difficult for me. I'm an emo at heart, so I have no problem getting into my sad girl feels! Happy and in love? I guess, I never paused to write about it, because I was always just immersed myself in it, you know? But with Sushi passing away, that was a huge loss for me. I was sad, I was depressed, my little life companion was gone, yet I was in love with this person, so it was a really strange moment in time for me. Her passing was the catalyst to get Corazón Vecino off the ground though. Writing is cathartic for me, and it felt like the perfect moment to express everything I was going through, the good and the bad.
What is your favorite part of creating?
The experience! Living it, and then re-living it through my words, and then sharing it with the world.
How does community intertwine with your work?
Community is so important to me. We all have our circle of support and that to me is community. It could be your friends and family, your book club, your group chat, your business partners, your brunch gang, that's community. We can't grow and evolve without each other, it's necessary to be part of a community, for your growth and mental health! My work wouldn't have the exposure that it does without the support of my community. It takes a village, you know?
What does community mean to you?
As I mentioned before, when I left the city for the Central Valley, I didn't feel like I had a community. I was a brown kid experiencing racism for the first at 13 years old in a new city, in a new town. It was weird times man, I went from being the majority minority, to being the minority in a red city during the Bush administration. I didn't understand why we would get sat by the restrooms or why the blonde waitress was rude to us, it was little things like that that made me feel out of place, which was another driving force to get my ass back to the city, back to being surrounded by black and brown folk. Don't get me wrong, there's ton of POC in the Central Valley and there's a huge sense of community there too, but it's not really something that I personally experienced in my time there. I had friends and I was in my school's Salad Bowl (POC club) but I felt like I needed to get back to the city and immerse myself back into the community in NELA. As soon as I was home, I started to become more involved with the orgs and business that I felt were making strides for my neighborhood and my community. One of the biggest mentors I've met in that process is Noelle Reyes, owner of Mi Vida. To this day, she holds it down for our neighborhood during this huge wave of gentrification and she's always looking for ways to support and showcase small POC businesses. She's a huge role model for me and what and how she gives back to our community is essential, I want to one day be that for someone too.
Buy her zine here and in stores at Party Art Community!