Today we’d like to introduce you to Marisa Sayler.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making stuff. As a kid, I had a book called “Make and Do” that was filled with ideas about how to make wild puppets, forts, costumes, and art projects using things you can find around the house. I remember a project for some thrillingly grotesque papier mache creatures, vividly painted and insane-looking. They spoke to me. This book showed me the potential for simple objects to become magical, and thus reinforced my love of seeing the world through the lens of fantastical imagination. Coming from a working-class family, creativity is essential to survival when you don’t have many material things. I grew up with the decidedly weird 80’s and early 90’s influences; Aardman Claymation movies, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Ren and Stimpy, and Return to Oz, as well as 60s acid rock and psychedelia (thanks, Dad!). Having always been tuned into the joyously weird things in life and combined with my need to create and the necessity to be inventive, it means there’s always been work for me to do.
Using my hands along with my imagination to create things became my goal at such a young age that it has no doubt influenced most aspects of my life. I took every art and shop class I could, and this lead me to a BFA and MFA in drawing, painting, and printmaking. In 2009 I was a brand-new MFA grad at the height of the recession. The arts, as usual, were hit hard and the drawing classes I had been teaching were cut. Just about every teaching artist I knew experienced something similar at that time. So, I decided to stay in education, albeit in a drastically different field, and worked as a grant writer, instructor, and Director of Education for a local health sciences university.
Like many other artists, I have been balancing a family and non-art career paths along with my art practice for many years. Women artists are still underrepresented, even more so those like me who have Latinx roots, come from the working class, are first-generation college graduates, have domestic roles, are mothers, are not fresh out of art school, and so on. But to stop making art has never been an option for me, for many reasons. Lately, I’ve made it a goal to carve out enough time to make the bigger, louder, and weirder work that’s been waiting to come out, and I’m excited to share it with the world.
Please tell us about your art.
My work is about inventing new narratives about life, death, and human connection. The idea of parallel worlds and universes – where existence is alien but somehow still familiar- is magical to me. Like the lives we live when we’re asleep: they are faintly remembered, only seen out of the corner of the eye, an unusual world that is brand-new yet already known. It’s a place where death is impermanent and there is nothing but possibilities within this surreal, biomorphic, technicolor wormhole fantasy world.
I depict our other selves and settings as unbridled psychedelic landscapes, and flying or swimming creatures made of eyes, fangs, hearts, nodes, rainbows and patterns. My work is driven by compulsion and inspired by candy, dreams, fantasy and horror stories, and the plants and animals of earth and their symbolism. And also, by the simple nature of silliness, absurdity and joy.
When I share my work, I want you, the viewer, to be reminded of the beautiful, terrible, blissfully weird and complicated bits of existence that we all experience in our tenuous positions in this universe. I think we all want to connect in some way, particularly when it feels as if we are being engineered to turn against one another. The making, sharing, and experiencing of art is an essential catharsis to the human experience. So be able to unite with someone wordlessly through color and shapes, across time and space, is very magical.
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Sometimes we aren’t able to get to physical events where we’d normally connect with people who share our interests. Virtual places like Facebook, Instagram, and other various art forums are invaluable places to connect with people. Whether you’re looking for grandiose art inspiration or just to form your own small-but-mighty band of weirdos, there are more ways to find your people than ever and the internet is a good place to start.
That said, regardless of profession, lots of people enjoy the arts. Lots of people have picked up a paintbrush or a bit of clay and enjoyed the feeling. Lots of people have experienced a painting, film, music, performance, or piece of writing that made their heart sing in a way nothing else has. And lots of people wish they had more time to experience the art of others, and to try to create their own. Don’t be afraid to talk about art with anyone. Because lots of people totally get it.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I use Instagram and Facebook as a tool to keep track of my daily studio work. It’s also the most accessible way to share and interact with people today. You can find the most current things I’m working on there as well as show announcements to see my work in person. I also have finished pieces catalogued on my website.
- Website: www.marisasayler.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/speaking_in_rainbows/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/speakinginrainbows