Today we’d like to introduce you to Camila Saldarriaga.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
When anybody asks me where I’m from — which they often do, given my accent — I tell them I’m 50% Colombian and 50% American. It’s my way of expressing the two cultures that makeup who I am: even though I have spent half of my life in the United States, I am deeply connected to my Colombian heritage.
My family decided to move back to Colombia when I was 20, and I have been on my own since then. In Miami, I started working for companies like MTV and E! Entertainment to support myself, but I always found time to dedicate to one of my own creative projects on the side. Years working in production gave me ample practical experience, but I got to a point where I was tired of holding a job that merely paid my bills without providing an outlet for my creative energy. That was what eventually spurred my move to Los Angeles. In 2013, I sold all my belongings and made the journey across the country in my old Ford Focus. I had no idea what to expect from my new home. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I was faced with many challenges that shaped my passion for telling stories and my understanding that storytelling has a tremendous power to unveil social issues and to touch lives.
Please tell us about your art.
Although I have never gone to film school, my background in photography and wardrobe styling, the radically different aesthetics of my respective home cities (Bogotá, Miami, and Los Angeles) give me a distinct approach when it comes to directing. I think of every frame as a photo, and I understand that my actors have to communicate much of their emotions with their eyes.
My years in Los Angeles, and influenced by a diverse group of friends with a strong political activist voice ultimately led to one of my short films, ¡Mais Duro¡, when a Colombian teenager gives into her curiosities, she ignites her journey toward self-discovery. This process of creating ¡Mais Duro¡ helped me to foster an ability to connect my audience with a deeper understanding of important social issues — gentrification, cultural appropriation, and the oppression of women in countries like Colombia — through the use of aesthetically beautiful imagery. I want my work to inspire women to take chances, to jump headfirst into the creative unknown, and to believe in their ability to make art that can change lives.
Following ¡Mais Duro!’s success, I decided to continue creating and in association with The Inertia made, Las Shapers, a short documentary that gives the audience a thoughtful glimpse into the lives of three women (Kat Mortimer, Cher Pendarvis and Valerie Duplat) breaking the boundaries of traditionally gendered roles and blazing a new path in the world of surfboard building. To create an inspirational tale for those looking to break through their fears in the quest to fulfill their true passion. To date, “Las Shapers” has won the best screenplay at Lagoa Surfe Arte. brazil and has been selected to; New York Women Surf Film Festival, Chattanooga Film Festival, San Diego Surf Film Festival, and Honolulu Surf Film Festival among others.
What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
To be honest, I can only speak for myself and my own journey as an artist. I was just in Madrid and found myself at El Padro museum looking at all these 1800s paintings thinking to myself about all the time and effort these artists put into their work. In my perspective being an artist now with technology and an artist during the 1800s always has its struggles and the limitations are the ones we create in our minds.
In the 1800s artist had limitations to only work on or with specific subjects and many of them struggled to have their work shown, but the ones that used those limitations as opportunities were the ones that now have their painting hanging at El Prado.
Today, technology has given us easier access to equipment and ways to promote our work. A platform like Instagram – which has become a portfolio for many artists and can be great, but it is oversaturated. This gives artists a feeling that they need to regularly create work, comparing to others rather than focusing on their own creative journey and for some, not having real human contact with an audience. All these, are distractions to our own art and our ideas can get diluted or conditioned by that medium.
A while ago, I found myself shooting models every week to “have something to post” and fell into that trap. One day at the Long Beach Zine Fest I realized I wanted to make a Zine with my film photos. A booklet that was tangible and people would actually hold it and interact with it… and most importantly that had a message. And that’s when I created, She Would Become with my talented friend Courtney McCullough. Using film photography, fashion, and text Courtney and I created an honest portrayal of Courtney’s childhood genderfluidity and her struggle to find self-acceptance in a world bent on gendering children and young adults.
After six months of working on the text, layout, photos and printing the copies we now go to Zine Festivals and actually have a beautiful human and real interaction with the attendees — they have something tangible to look at. It is very gratifying to actually see them opening the pages and reading Courtney’s story and then sharing with us theirs and building a community of like-minded humans as opposed to just getting a “like.” Events like Zine or Film Festivals, that cater to diverse groups is what Los Angeles still has to offer us and we have to take advantage of it.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
To see some more of my work and get updates on future projects and screenings, check out my website, and follow me on Instagram.Las Shapers Screenings:
Honolulu Film Festival: Board Shorts program at the Honolulu Museum: Thursday, Jul 18, 01:00 PM, Sunday, Jul 21, 07:00 PM, Tuesday, Jul 30, 07:30 PM.
Women’s Surf Film Night, New Zealand organized by Aoaka Surf Studio and Sea together Mag. You will find more info. about the event on their website.
Santa Cruz Film Festival: Oct 9-13th.
To purchase the Zine. https://www.etsy.com/listing/653445285/lgbtq-art-zines-she-would-become-limited
- Website: www.camilasaldarriaga.com
- Instagram: @goldenvixen
She Would Become
Model and text: Courtney McCollough
Photos: Camila Saldarriaga
Design: Alexandra Velasco