January 2018 Artist Interview
Samantha Parker Salazar
Samantha Parker Salazar creates large-scale installations and works on paper. Salazar is a recipient of numerous awards and grants, including an ArtPrize Nine Seed Grant, Greater Columbus Arts Council AITC Grant, and Emerging Artist Grant for the Columbus Arts Festival. Her exhibition record includes national and international venues as well as public and private collections. Salazar earned an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and a BFA from Bradley University in 2011. In 2014, Salazar was granted a John Fergus Family Post-MFA Fellowship at The Ohio State University, where she was a resident artist and lecturer in the printmaking area. She has taught workshops at Flatbed Press, Urban Arts Space, and Southwest, Inc. Recent public projects include a permanent installation in the lobby of the Courtyard-Marriott Austin and a pop-up installation for the Columbus BIA Parade of Homes. Coming in 2018 is Blueprint, a permanent installation for the new Woodbourne-Centerville Public Library. Salazar is currently based in Columbus, Ohio and is a museum instructor at The Dayton Art Institute.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I grew up with an interest in drawing and painting. The act of putting brush or pencil to paper eventually evolved into other methods of making art. It is a sort of creative storm that has always followed me.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
When I was nearing the end of grad school I started cleaning out my flat files. An overabundance of prints in the files led me to lose all sense of preciousness, and soon I was cutting them up. From there, I began playing with the cut-outs as small compositions on my kitchen table. The malleable pieces inevitably made it to the wall of my studio, where I pinned them in all sorts of precarious ways. Today, I enjoy the complexity of building a three-dimensional installation out of two-dimensional objects.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
My favorite time to create has always been first thing in the morning. I love to wake up before the sun, drink a coffee, and get to work! As for time management, my weekly studio schedule is absolutely necessary. I lay out tasks for each week so that I am able to stay on track with multiple projects at once.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
It is increasingly rare to find me working on just one project at a time. Currently, I am finishing up the components for two installations and frames for a solo show this fall.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
My love of the creative process—the simple act of conjuring something out of thin air—is what motivates me to continue working every day.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
For me, it produces the sensation of excitement like nothing else can. That is why I fell in love with the process of using paper for sculpture; it feels like uncharted, challenging territory. I think the moment my scalpel blade first met paper was the same moment I lost my fear of messing stuff up. I don’t care if I mess it up anymore. The paper has become a material that essentially melts in my hands. I cut it, tear it, bend, score, and fold it. I twist it and weave it, I burn it, paint on it, draw on it, and more. Being able to give up control was one of the greatest areas of development as I have matured as an artist.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
I enjoy controlled chaos and believe we need both ends of the spectrum to grow. For example, the installations involve some loose sketching, but I rarely go beyond one or two sketches. When I first see a space, there is an instant idea for the movement I would like to see in there, and then I figure out my color palette and concept once I start thinking about the nuances of the architecture and, in some cases, the history of the space itself. On site, the process is about 40% planned at 60% improvisation.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
Coming up next, I will be installing a collaborative project at ArtPrize Nine in Grand Rapids for which we were awarded a seed grant. I have five solo shows slated between now and 2019 as well as a handful of group shows. Next summer I will be installing a permanent statement piece in the vaulted ceiling of the main entrance to the new Woodbourne-Centerville Public Library near Dayton, Ohio.
You can find more information about the artist at her website
Wake By Night
Hand-cut paper, acetate, PEX piping, elastic, cord, lightbulbs
Monotype on hand-cut paper, paint, vinyl, rope, PEX piping, flagging tape
Monotype on hand-cut paper, vinyl, paint, flagging tape, monofilament