I asked old friend and artist Souther Salazar about his art show. He replied with this, “The show is about inclusion…falling in love, opening up and inviting someone else in…sharing the joy and excitement of adventures through the act of storytelling, and creating places where stories themselves can continue to develop and grow through other people’s eyes.” Yes, this sounds just like the art he’s been making since I met him as a recent Art Center grad years ago.
GR: How has your move to a more smaller town changed your work? It always had a small town feel to it. Has it pushed it in a different direction?
SS: Yeah, I think it’s had a big impact. Before, I guess the small town element came out more in the memories of exploring a neighborhood. But my whole world these days is not so much a small town or a neighborhood, but the world of all the life on the river, and my life with Monica and these animals. I have a lot of quiet time to observe, and to focus more on my favorite sources of inspiration. The elements of our life together in seclusion and the river world are in every piece.
Click on them to see them larger!
GR: Although disasters, war, and so many bad things happen in the world, and we’re bombarded by those images, how do they stay out of your work?
SS: I’ve had escapist tendencies my whole life, and I know how to escape much better than I know how to create a dialogue. I try to make work that’s honest, if it’s not honest about the nature of the world, hopefully it is at least honest about the nature of my mind. I’ve tried to shape my escapism into something that actually contributes back to the world in a positive way. When I focus on the negative, it overwhelms me and I start to shut down, and I lose my motivation to create. But when I can go into my little turtle shell and have some freedom to explore and escape into my imagination, I am infinitely more productive and happy. Once I’m in that space, I can process and layer emotions and memories into the worlds I create, and only then do I actually feel like I can emerge with something I believe in that I can hold up and share with the world. I’ve always been that way. Like you said, we are bombarded. Sometimes, I feel like the only way to shout out something you believe in over all the noise and craziness is to provide a quiet argument for the things worth living for. I’m trying to create my quiet argument in the form of a tiny little bubble that floats over the battlefield.
GR: Tell me about those pieces that look like terrariums? Your works have a free sweeping feeling, but some might say terrariums have a finite feeling.
SS: Those pieces each started very organically…I’d find things I liked, that related to my love of building worlds, and save them to make a sculpture. I found the domes and glass containers over time. I’m not sure where the impulse came from, but I just had instinctively accumulated these ingredients and when it came time to build stuff it was all there. In a way they feel like souvenirs, and I liked the idea of putting some of my usual city building impulses into the show in a contained way. I don’t live in the city anymore, and I think that’s why even in the paintings, the cityscapes are either distant, or tiny and contained, like souvenirs.
GR: How’s the “struggle” with getting the work how you want? Is it same, easier or harder than before?
SS: The struggle is my old friend. It never ends. I keep coming up with tricks to outsmart it, and it keeps developing new obstacles for me to stumble over. But I still like the struggle because I know that there’s a better painting on the other side. I like when there’s some evidence of a fight left behind.
Catch You Come Too and Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC