The local artist emphasizes creating art that is true to herself

Cezia Costales brings unique multimedia and modern art to Big Sky

By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER

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

Instead, the young local artist has cultivated her own style, different from what she sees around her. Using bright colors, upcycled materials and a variety of other mediums, Costales makes work that speaks through her soul, and she aims to teach others to do the same.

“Everyone has a unique creative style,” Costales said. “I’m inspired by Montana, although it doesn’t influence my art.”

Costales first traveled west from his Connecticut home after leaving art school early.

He started a seasonal restaurant job in various cities in the region, but somewhere along the way he stopped making art.

She eventually moved to an area of ​​Wyoming that was so remote that she had to use a pay phone to keep in touch with her family. Having just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship, Costales said she decided it was a good time to try making art again.

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

Costales brought his unique art style and enthusiastic personality to Big Sky eight years ago when he moved to the resort town for a seasonal job and never left. This month she is taking the step to become her own full-time employer and focus entirely on her art. She called her personal art brand Janai P; janai a biblical term meaning “God answers” and P stands for “prophetic art.”

The brightly colored, sometimes sparkling, and often reworked pieces that Costales creates are unlike anything that could be made by another artist, and that’s no accident. In her work, she uses the use of recycled materials – sometimes even real garbage – to make something new.

“Joy Comes in the Morning” by Cecia Costales. PHOTO COURTESY OF CEZIA COSTALES.

In her work Joy Comes in the Morning, a three-dimensional black border breaks the boundaries of a gilded frame to reveal a golden background and a window made of real twigs. Little flowers pop up under the window that looks at a sunrise over green hills.

“I do what makes me happy as far as my art style, which is literally me,” she said unapologetically. “There’s nothing they taught me but 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 lessons, intentional workshops, collage-making classes 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 starting point. She is also a fixture at the Big Sky Farmers Market.

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

Costales’ main goal in her work is not to create the most technical works of art, 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 themselves, artists naturally cultivate their own individual style, she suggested, but it is often weakened when artists compare their work to that of others.

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

By leaning into what makes her art her own, Costales has fostered a connection with the Big Sky community and has been recognized for her work, recently winning second place at the Big Sky Artisan Festival this summer and has had many returning clients in her BASE classes and her stand at the farmers market.

Costales can be found through her website janaip.art or @Janai_p.art on Instagram and Facebook.

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