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Monday, September 18, 2006

Interview with Terri Saul

Q) So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

A)Terri Saul. 35 years old. I live in Berkeley, CA. I'm the granddaughter of Chief Terry Saul, a Choctaw painter. Both of my parents are artists. I studied painting at UC Berkeley, in California. Berkeley was a good school academically and, for me, artistically. I had the chance to practice film-making, delve into art history, study poetry writing with Ishmael Reed, play in the Javanese gamelan, study anthropology, archaeology, and Native American literature.

Q) How did you get started making art?

A)I used to draw on the underside of the kitchen table with crayons while my mother was cooking dinner.

Q) How would you describe your art?

A)My work has been described as gestural, narrative, having a “Donnie Darko” twist. I like to think of it as comic, expressive, materials-based story telling, or story boarding for a film strip in my head. Although I read heavily, and enjoy conceptual art, and am aware of the complexity of modern art criticism, my work comes from elements any luddite can grasp -- line, color, poetry. They are simply pictures, and closer to American Naïve art, or Native American decorative art than to something academic or highbrow. I’d like it to be raw, radical, enigmatic and shameless, and yet restrained enough to float in a state of awareness of the world and crucial details of everyday experience and the painfulness of life.

Q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

A)My father Bill Saul worked as a news photographer for the Associated Press and also studied art photography with Edmund Teske. Complementing him, my mother Sue Saul, gave me some of her studio space, a portable radio, Chinese paper cut-outs, and the abstract expressionists. Growing up, my family frequented museums, bookstores and photo studios. I was encouraged to carry a dictionary with me along with my backpack of books, papers, homemade journals, and crayons.
Many other things contributed to my artistic development. Years spent traveling with my brother’s Greco Roman wrestling team distracted me from the ongoing threat of nuclear war. Free xerox art, street art, comic books, and zines were scattered throughout Los Angeles on the counters of espresso bars. Shows of expressive paintings by such greats as Philip Guston, James Ensor, Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Stanley Spencer, Frida Kahlo, Kathe Kollwitz, Louise Bourgeois, Georg Baselitz, and various Pacific Northwest, Inuit, Native American, Mexican and Latin American artists have all been sources of inspiration. Growing up in Los Angeles was both alienating, and invigorating. Image makers were everywhere.

Q)What are you working on now?

A)I’m currently developing my bicycling series, various figures on bicycles in real and imagined settings

Q)Are there some web sites that you would like to recommend? Artists, art communities, xxx,...!?

A) Mugi Takei, artist Men in Tights, cycling blog Martin McMurray, artist Earth and Moon Viewer Conversational Reading, literature blog Wordlab, naming and branding site Return of the Reluctant, literature blog Google Maps Mania Tom Tomorrow

Q) What programs / materials / tools do you use to create your pieces?

A)I use acrylic on wood, pencil, ink and goache on paper.

Q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

A)Don’t throw away your worst work. You might like it later-on.

Q) What is your personal definition of life and art and everything else in between?

A)I don’t have one. Peace and awareness are good places to start. I'd like all fundamentalists to go to hell. We need to learn to live with each other, everywhere, peacefully. Murder is wrong in any language. Reverence for life should be more important than reverence for afterlife.

Q) Do you think that art is a universal language - transcending all the different languages, cultures and religions etc?

A)No. I think that context matters. But, the best work will cross many boundaries. So, sometimes this is true.

Q) What are your artistic influences?

A)See question #4.

Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)Each person brings their own personal experience with them when they view the work. Almost everyone finds something that strikes them as being expressive, or strange.

Q) Do you have many connections in the underground scene?

A)I’m not sure if there is truly an underground scene. I know a number of artists who are working in obscurity, and some who are showing in museums.

Q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.

A)I was attempting to rescue my ex-husband from a tidal wave by making loud guttural sounds, while hopping about on islands of permafrost, with a kayak full of bundled items and our daughter, who was being kept warm by being swaddled in layers of fleece. It was post apocalyptic, and full of the after affects of divorce and global climate change. I woke up thinking about Joseph Beuys and his coyote performance.

Q) What is freedom to you as an artist?

A)Listening to the squeals of Tule Elk gathering around a sunset in Point Reyes while being stalked by a wild fox. The most important prerequisite for freedom of any kind is a healthy ecosystem.

Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

A)Yes, the Chrome Eater Healer
And Northwestern Piano Mover

I’m also fond of Mountain Climber
And Ireland Dawned on Berkeley,

Q) Last Books you read?

A)I’m reading Proust, Swann’s Way, the Lydia Davis translation in English. I recently finished Europe Central by William T. Vollmann. The Dutchess of Nothing by Heather McGowan and Television, and Making Love by Toussaint are recent reads I enjoyed and would recommend.

Q) Last records you bought?

A)Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio
Opal Book Club by E Blake Davis and the Opal Book Club

Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

A)Besides the artists in question 4, more favorites would be Edward Hopper, Goya, Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Jiusepe de Ribera, Velasquez, illustrators and comic artists like Edward Gorey, or Adrienne Tomine. Bucheon Gallery in Hayes Valley is my current gallery of choice. LoBot Gallery in Oakland is great for underground art. I love the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Louvre in Paris, as far as museums go.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…Links



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