Jessica Salinas (aka wondermundo) is a first-generation Mexican-American multimedia artist with over 20 years of experience in content, learning, and collaboration design.
She first entered the NFT space in April 2021 after rediscovering her own artistic self following years of trauma-related suppression. She now uses her art as a vehicle for reconnecting with herself, shining a light on her own wounds as a means of working through them, and connecting with others based on an artistic practice that leads with vulnerability.
We got a chance to take a deeper dive into her work, her artistic practice, and how unflinching honesty is the key to one’s deepest work.
MP: I’ve read you had a rough upbringing. Can you tell me how you see that cropping up in your art? How do you work through it?
WM: My artworks are almost like mini stories of my life. Sometimes it crops up in the description that’s telling a story, or sometimes, it’s the pictures of my family and me that you see.
In #neverthesame, there’s a glitched photo of my dad and a photo of Acuña, Mexico, where he’s from. The house is actually a drawing of a house we used to live in.
Another example is my piece #faultymemories, which actually includes photos of my mother and me.
I don’t always point out all these things because I like for people to discover it themselves or make them curious enough to ask. My art is honestly how I work through it all. I think I was just surviving before I rediscovered my art.
MP: You had a big a-ha moment parallel with art therapy where you rediscovered your artist urges. How has your art practice evolved since that day?
WM: My art practice has evolved so much since that day. Before then, I wasn’t really doing art for myself anymore. There had been phases for me where I’d start painting or pick up another craft for a few months at a time. It was a fun thing away from my job.
Now, I create something fun for myself every day. I don’t share everything, but it’s important for me to have this practice. I try to draw a daily wondermundo to see where I’m at for the day. I also found myself embracing other tools to create digital art again since then (e.g., Procreate, AI), where at first I was sketching on paper because digital art still felt too much like work.
MP: In the same interview, you deflected the title of “artist” because that’s not how you thought of yourself. It’s been over a year since that interview — where do you come down on the “artist” denomination?
WM: I’m happy to say that now I’m comfortable calling myself an artist. At that time, I was still struggling with my identity and authentic self. I worked through that and realized I’ve always been an artist. It’s who I am and not just a title, which is how it felt at first.
MP: Tell us about the kind of work you’re making now.
WM: Right now, I’m starting to do a lot more work from the subconscious that dives into what it feels like to have dissociative identity disorder. Art is how I processed coming to terms with it, and now my art is a lot about what I feel like on a daily basis. I still do wondermundo classic style, but my new work is more surreal.
MP: Which of your pieces do you feel the strongest emotional connection to and why? Which piece feels the most personal?
WM: #glitchgirl is the piece I have the strongest emotional connection to because it’s wondermundo. This is the face I drew that helped remind me of my artistic self and the face I’ve been drawing since I was a teenager.
The most personal is #neverthesame, which I mentioned earlier with a picture of my dad and the drawing of my old house. That scene actually depicts the day my dad told me he’d be right back, but he never did come back. Later, my parents got back together and acted as if nothing had happened, but I was never the same after that day. A part of me never left that window and keeps waiting for him to come back.
In my 20s, I wrote a poem about this day and paired it with this NFT.
MP: What do you hope people feel when they look at your art?
WM: Honestly, I hope they feel anything. If I can make someone feel something, then I’m happy. But I also want my art to show hope and color even in the darkest places.
MP: What kinds of themes/stories do you typically focus on?
WM: I focus a lot on myself and telling the story of my journey. But all of it is full of bright, bold colors. I think there are only 2-3 pieces that have very little color. I also focus on my Mexican heritage a lot with luchador masks, the Virgen de Guadalupe, and most recently, sugar skulls.
MP: You have over 300 NFTs. Can you tell me about some of your favorites in your collection?
WM: The pieces from the entire Real Self Talk collection are definitely favorites of mine. They combine positive affirmations with wondermundo and were actually things I told (and still) try to tell myself. Another favorite is #elcabron. Not only was it one of my early works on Tezos, but it also combines my love of luchador masks and ranchera music.
MP: Can you tell me about 0xTHULU and your work with them?
WM: Sure! I started working with 0xTHULU in May to run their Twitter and community management leading up to their genesis NFT drop. I get to engage with an awesome community, have fun on Twitter, and host weekly spaces. What made me want to work with them was their dedicating 33% of sales to a community treasury that would fund projects for artists (based on community voting). We are about to reveal, and I’m excited for people to see that and finish this part of the project.
MP: If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?
MP: Do you have any favorite crypto artists?