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Meet Sali Swalla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sali Swalla.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Hawaii to a Japanese mother and a military aviator father. My early years were spent living in various US States, Japan and Korea. After attending University in Tokyo, I moved to Los Angeles where roots where finally grown. Having moved often in my youth and spending so much time “in between”…in between states, countries, houses, schools and cultures… I have developed an inner life that imagines mysteries in the world we cannot see with eyes alone. Mysteries which are the foundation for all of my work.

My full time painting practice began after years as a small business owner. I followed the dream of opening a little coffee shop and ran two of them before the need for the meditative quiet of a regular studio practice demanded to be heard. There was no refusing the call to create. It has become my meditation, my vehicle and my voice on this spiritual journey. It has made me complete on a deeply soulful level. My deepest wish for my work is for it to touch the viewer in some way on just such a level…to make the viewer pause, even for the briefest of moments, to reflect on or connect with their deeper selves. To make visible to them something that has only ever been a feeling or a dream.

Please tell us about your art.
My recent work has been mostly in the medium of oil and wax; both the cold and heated. The organic qualities of wax, from the way it handles, to the way it smells of honey and the luminosity which can be achieved has captured my creative spirit. I use layers to build depth ~ alternating between opaque and translucent ~ and often find myself scraping much of it back to reveal the moments of light I love so much. This process mirrors the effects of life experiences on an individual as they grow and evolve. Often initial events and what lies beneath is not within view yet is essential to the individual’s identity. If one looks close enough traces of these earlier marks can be unveiled. Such is the journey of the soul and the journey of my artwork.

On another level I’m also deeply interested in seeing through “the veil” that exists between us and the spiritual world. I believe nature is the doorway and if we but learn to look and listen we will be able to see and reconnect with spiritual elements we have lost touch with and (I believe) our souls are aching and longing to re-connect with. It is through my art practice and my work that I aim to translate what I see and feel when looking – or trying to look- through this veil.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
My number one word of advice – Do the Work! Don’t wait for inspiration to strike or you will waste precious time. If you show up, wherever or however small your work space might be, even to do mundane busy work like taping sides, things will happen. You and your work will grow and eventually blossom into what you see in your dreams.

A lesson I wish I had learned earlier is to build a network of local artist and galleries. It’s hard to step out of the isolation of the studio and expect there to be an immediate outlet / audience for the work. Relationships and building a support group outside of the studio does wonders for getting the work seen and to the right collector. Also, keep your work organized someplace with easy info and image sharing abilities. (I love artwork archive) for when inquiries and submissions arise. You will have everything ready to go and be less inclined to drop the ball or waste time searching through the computer.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Most of my work can best be seen online at my website. There you can also see when I have work in group shows at various galleries in downtown and sometimes out of state. My Instagram feed is a great way to see a bit of my studio practice and processes which is always a great way to get to know an artist and their work.

The best way to support my (or any other artist’s) work aside from bringing the artwork into your home or work place, is to tell others about the art! Word of mouth is a great affordable way to support work and artists that you connect with.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sali Swalla

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