BLOG TAKEOVER: Black Salt Interview
It’s the last day of Black Salt’s blog takeover on Girls Get Busy today. It’s been a delight and honour having them, and we hope you found this week as interesting as we did!
So to wrap up the week with their final post, Black Salt thought it’d be interesting if each of them presented a question for the group. Here is what we came up with:
Adee: How do race, gender, and astrology come together in your work as an artist?
Grace: Race and gender are definitely large parts of the stuff I make, even if it’s not in a very straightforward way. These are without a doubt two of the largest elements that shape my worldview. For me, I’ve always had an existing concept of self, at least in terms of race and cultural identity… My father was an activist at the University of Illinois at Urbana who protested the use of the “Fighting Ilini,” a chief mascot that was basically a bad amalgamation of Native culture and was used for decades during halftime performances and unfortunately still exists “unsanctioned” by the school… but because of this, I more or less had his example as a foundation for the way I thought about race, specifically mine. That doesn’t necessarily mean that because of that though that I’ve always had a reinforced concept of self… because unfortunately any individual’s navigation of his or her own race and culture isn’t that clean and easy. I’m still learning and it is still in my art and as far as I’m aware will in some aspect always be. I am part of a culture where the language is dying and a lot of my own cultural identity is pieced together from a slight oral history and confirmed by an often Anglicized “written word.” It’s not easy. I think about race every day… I mean I see Navajo print seriously every day on my way to work or I see some band with a name like “Warfeathers” (I just made that up but I bet there is a band named that) and I cringe. It’s hard to put it all together for some people and I think it is really unfortunate that so many people my age think that having even an opinion is an overreaction.
Gender is also a significant part of the things I make as well. I think a lot of the work I’ve made in the past examines specific emotions that I feel are representative of the constructed emotions that are associated with being female or “feminine.” It’s not necessarily my goal when making a work but it pretty much occurs by default because I am a young woman and my art is a product of my thoughts. However, I wouldn’t try NOT to have this come out because I’m not really interested in pushing myself to make less personal work. Essentially I feel like it is best to not fight things and just let stuff flow.
Astrology doesn’t really inform my work. I like astrology like most people but I wouldn’t apply it to things I create. If I’m informed by anything it would more based on intuition and memory. I have other practices I do but the crossover is less there. (PS I’m a Leo Sun/Taurus Moon/Pisces Rising so to quote my friend Naomi Violet when hearing this, I’m a “kook”)
Adee: Cancer sun. Pisces Moon. Capricorn Rising
Black. Woman. Queer.
Healer. Artist. Musician.
These aspect of my life, soul, and personality all form a triple trinity. A Pyramid of which I live by. I am at the crossroads. This allows me to remember the past (ancestral memory), document my experience in the present, and to create future visions through my work. My most recent work has been the symbol of the pyramid which has been a source of protection and power for me, as it has been for some many other individuals and cultures… Abstract to most, this symbol still feels powerful. There were a 3 crystal pyramids in the bottom of the ocean near the Bermuda triangle this year. These pyramids were said to be used to generate power for the lost city of Atlantis. Through my paintings I hope to generate and to reclaim my power that the oppression and injustice of racism, sexism, and homophobia have stolen from me.
Fanciulla: Death and nature are huge forces behind my art due to having growing up in a country with such radically different climate and landscapes with pockets of human populations that at one point were considered the poorest people in South America. I’ve seen people die.All kinds animal corpses hanging from hooks in center plazas. I am grateful to have come from a place
where the indigenous culture and languages still hold majority in a place ravaged by Spanish Catholic colonization. I pay tribute to my matriarchal roots and
Goddess-worship in the things I channel. Images of wombs, snakes, skulls, all those things represent a specific side of a female force that I identify with. These symbols manifest in more recent histories and popular culture for me. In my music making, my inspirations are Samara from the film “The Ring” and the mother from “Alien.” I deeply identify with stories of having to be brutal and vengeful in order to survive and be seen. A lot of my life has been on survival mode while having to perform feminity, living in such an emotionally twisted
world, detachment has been necessary. I had always imagined myself being the protagonist of a supernaturalor sci fi opera as the scary hyperfeminine lead role.
I once got my vedic natal chart read, I found the interpretation really interesting. Apparently, I have lot of placements in the 12th house, the house of death and transformation. And another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Fanciulla: What is your relationship to the muse (the classical definition as being a source of inspiration)? Do you feel it comes from within you or is it an outside force you tap into?
Adee: Every morning I wake up and listen to Alice Coltrane. I would have to say black spiritual music is my muse. For me spiritual music is anything that takes me to a place of beauty and emotional depth. Songs born in the soul. I am not a fan of too much contemporary music. Although right now I do feel a deep love and spiritual connection to Frank Ocean.
I always play music while I work on art. There is a soundtrack to my paintings and collages. Every piece has a song within it. Sometimes I even use the titles for songs to name my pieces.
Grace: The things I’m inspired by are kind of ineffable but I feel like in general my whole interest in artmaking has been the basis of other’s work— not even just names of artists but I feel the most moved by people who work because they have to… out of necessity rather than a desire to create something clean and “complete”… a compulsive work ethic that might be experimental or have a goal. I like self-taught people. My great-grandmother was a quilt maker so there was that. I grew up seeing her quilts, sleeping under her quilts, and every thing was hand-stitched. My grandmother did needlepoint, so there’s a tradition of necessity and also entirely pouring the self into a piece. I feel like when I work, I have pretty little interest in putting stuff in a frame or something, but rather just keeping volumes or records I am creating for myself. I’ve always kind of been a sketchbook artist or worked small or even when I made videos, I always made everything in my bedroom, so I guess I like privacy and that is how I tap into my inspiration. I always carve out time to work alone. I work socially with the rest of Black Salt but I also need time alone to really reflect on stuff, map out ideas, just listen to a record or something. Nothing can exist without being fed and same goes with an individual’s sense of inspiration and I prioritize that… finding an inner quiet.
Fanciulla: My muse very much feels like both a deep well that lies within me and an outer cosmic force that imparts upon me. They both, as seemingly polar opposites compliment, feed each other, and at times contradict each other. It’s from these meeting points that I find my topics and themes… everything else my hands and my body know how to do.
Grace: What should be a main goal of artists today?
Adee: I think every artist is on a different path based on their experience and what their life’s work is. I know that through my work I am supposed to tell stories and share the stories of those who have been forgotten. I am supposed to document, but I think that most artists should just really think about what their path is and try and follow that… or just make work for fun and therapeutic reasons.
Fanciulla: To live and thrive outside of the system. In the earthly sense, this is ultimately what I strive for as an artist and human being. I want to be part of cultivating communities that can support and raise each other up so that we
aren’t at the mercy of capitalist sponsorship and institutions. That and having reverence for where you came from… As in, paying respect to what brought you into existence… I suppose that could look like a billion different things but I feel it when it is present.
Grace: I think artists today should ultimately break out of institutional molds. Organize an art opening on the street. Encourage your friends. Have a good sense of humor. Recognize your beginnings. You’re not just a MFA degree and whatever gallery will show your work.
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