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Local artist emphasizes personal creativity

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Cezia Costales brings unique multimedia art to Big Sky

Cezia Costales holds one of her hand-painted plant pots inspired by Frida Kahlo. PHOTO COURTESY OF CEZIA COSTALES


BIG SKY — Cezia Costales doesn’t make Western art. In fact, unlike many of the pieces framed in gallery windows around Big Sky, her art doesn’t seem to resemble Montana much at all.

Instead, the young local artist has cultivated her own style, distinct from what she sees around her. Using bright colors, up cycled materials and various other mediums, Costales makes work that speaks through her soul, and she’s making it a point to teach others to do the same.

“Everybody has a unique creative style,” Costales said. “I am inspired by Montana although it does not influence my art.”

Costales first traveled out West from her home in Connecticut after leaving art school early.

She started working seasonal restaurant jobs in different towns around the region, but somewhere along the way, she stopped making art.

Eventually, she moved to an area of Wyoming that was so remote she had to use a payphone to keep in touch with her family. Having just exited an unhealthy relationship, Costales said she decided it was a good time to try creating art again.

“I wasn’t an expert in figure drawing or realism art or anything like that,” Costales said. “I just started going to thrift stores and looking for things that might be unconventional and then turn them into art.”

Costales brought her one-of-a-kind art style and enthusiastic personality to Big Sky eight years ago when she moved to the resort town for a seasonal job and never ended up leaving. This month, she’s making the leap to become her own full-time employer and focusing entirely on her art. She named her personal art brand Janai P; janai a biblical term meaning “God answers” and P standing for “prophetic art.”

The brightly colored, sometimes sparkly and often upcycled pieces Costales creates don’t look like anything that could have been made by a different artist, and that’s not an accident. In her work she employs the use of recycled materials—sometimes even actual trash—to make something new.

“Joy comes in the morning” by Cezia Costales. PHOTO COURTESY OF CEZIA COSTALES.

In her piece “Joy comes in the morning,” a 3-dimensional black border breaks the confines of a gilded frame to reveal a golden background and a window constructed of actual twigs. Small flowers pop out below the window, which views a sunrise over green hills.

“I’m doing what makes me happy as far as my art style, which it’s literally me,” she said unapologetically. “There’s nothing that was taught to me except the basics of art.”

In addition to her own work, Costales uses various venues to teach others the craft of uninhibited, self-expressive art. She hosts private art classes, intentional workshops, collage-making courses at BASE and art parties, where she brings art supplies to an event and leads a group through an interpretive art session, encouraging her students to use her instruction only as a jumping off point. She’s also a constant staple of the Big Sky farmer’s market.

“The coolest thing I’ve done as an artist was doing an art party for Justin Timberlake,” she added humbly.

Costales’ primary goal in her work isn’t to create the most technical art pieces, but rather ones that celebrate individual creativity and inspiration, she explained. In her courses, she encourages students to lean into what makes their art different from someone else’s. By knowing ones’ self, artists naturally cultivate their own individual style, she suggested, but it is often dampened when artists compare their work to that of others.

“I want to inspire young artists to stay true to their ideas, their identity and their individual activity,” Costales said. “They don’t need to compare themselves to other artists.”

Through leaning into what makes her art her own, Costales has fostered a connection with the Big Sky community and been recognized for her work, recently winning the second-place prize at this summer’s Big Sky Artisan Festival and having many returning customers in her classes at BASE and her farmer’s market booth.

Costales can be found via her website or at on Instagram and Facebook.

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