Buy Some Damn Art

Sara Escamilla

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

Originally from deep in the heart (crotch area) of Texas - San Antonio, but now I live and work in Los Angeles, California. Both are underdog cities (which I like).

Tell us a bit about this series.

It all started around the simple concept of "masks", but as I started working on it, I kept on drawing these saltimbanque (Picasso) like characters. so, these circus performers kept reappearing and I finally stopped fighting it, and let them in.

Who are the boys and girls in your portraits? are the drawings based on actual people? 

This question made me smile. When I was a kid, my sister always asked me the same thing! They're never anybody in particular. Just drawings I draw. Informed by everything i see, but conceived from my own brain.
I think it's funny how no one asks this about someone's drawing of a tree, "is this a tree you know?".
Somehow, people want to attach a particular person to a drawing of a human image, but it's the same thing you know, people and trees. You see so many in your lifetime, you know the willows from the oaks and you can recall them on command.

Any thoughts on our youth-obsessed culture?

I turned 30 this year and live in Los Angeles. It's sometimes a frightening place - with so many people trying to run away from their aging selves (either in the way they dress, or injectables, etc). But it's only frightening because they don't realize it's a facade they're trying to hold on too so desperately.

On the other hand, some people wear that mask with such joy de vivre and good humour because they know and you know - it's a mask. I think this is the secret, to why male transvestites seem to enjoy their sense of being a woman more than women do! We (women) just (falsely) take that mask for the real thing.

The truth is, no one really has a good idea of what they look like to other people (much less, to themselves) you can get a glimpse of people's true selves every now and then when you encounter someone for the first time. But the shocking truth of that initial impression usually washes away quickly, after you start conversing with them, and all their self-monitoring and affectation distorts that first impression.

I think maybe our culture would be healthier if we all could stop trying to control our image so fervently. It's so painful, to anyone with any sensitivity, to watch someone struggle to maintain a mask. Or maybe, if you do wear one - do so with a wink to the absurdity of it. 

The yellow hue of the paper gives the drawings a unique look. why this particular kind of paper?

It's a thin Japanse cotton paper. I like it because it's so sensitive to every medium. Working on it with wet-media creates an impression on it, like a dried leaf from a tree. I like the materiality of it.

Can you name a few artist crushes?

Matisse for his reductionism 
Jean Cocteau for his simplicity 
Marie Laurencin for her femininity 

What can't you live without? 

This is prob cheese, but other art & art makers that have come before me.

I know for certain, i would not have made it out of my teens, if it weren't for other works of art, music, and literature that came and held my hand, like a guide, during those wilderness years. I think, during your dark hours it's hard to feel like anything you do, matters at all. So it comes as strange consolation that the things, that really live and sing for me, have no utility. They don't create food, or clothe, or shelter people. They just sing, and consequently, it's precisely that uselessness that creates context and gives purpose to my existence.


Artist's website.

Written by Kate Singleton — November 08, 2011