Artist of the Month: Sarah Aldama
Where do you go to school, and what year are you?
I chose to attend the University of Georgia for its Landscape Architecture program. It’s one of the best in the States, humbly tucked away in downtown Athens. If it weren’t the ‘meant-to-be’ vibe of the studio community, I would have taken a gap year to gain perspective. Now as a rising sophomore, I have no doubt in making Athens my new home.
What are three essential things you own that you think describe your personality?
I “borrowed” this little red pocket knife from my brother, and it has saved my ass countless times. It’s versatile, and tough enough for the job.
My Mom “borrowed” this jacket from my Dad, back when they dated in the 1980’s. It has become mine now, carrying both of my parents’ youth within its fabric. It has secret pockets that are unofficial in the design. It reminds me that things can get better with age.
This is a recent possession. I found it on my way to the studio. It’s a rock being itself. Cool, right?
When did you first begin to be interested in visual art? Is art something you see yourself pursuing as a career in your future? If not, what do you see yourself doing five years down the road?
It began with a mixture of nature and nurture. My Dad played the role of the art teacher with my Mom as the art director. When one grows up with art books and design magazines on the coffee table, it becomes part of a personal culture like a taste in food or in music. It’s not self-righteous. It’s natural.
When I attended the Governor’s Honors Program, as a residential Visual Art student, I got my first taste of the studio lifestyle. I couldn’t give that up. As a landscape architecture student, I am not quite an artist, but I speak the same language, and that’s an awesome life for the present and future. In five years, I will be 24 years old. I’ll let my life surprise me. Heck! I can send the Textploit Team an update.
Your contributions have changed since you first were part of Textploit- from drawing to photography. What has this been like, and how did you find yourself migrating toward photography? How do you find the process different between the two?
Transitioning to college created a new kind of work. I was becoming a design student. I needed to keep a record. The photographs were to archive my studio work, and the behavior became a casual habit. Drawing and photography differ in their use of time. Drawing is a construction project, while photography is a gut-reaction to the environment. My best photograph is often the first one I take, but even then it could be aesthetic clutter. From there, I’ll take another shot. It’s a fun exercise.
What person, be it a mentor or a friend, or someone else, has influenced your art the most?
I studied under Michael Ross from 2011-2015. As an art teacher, he has a special talent for giving his students the enjoyable space to experiment, while providing criticism to move in the interesting directions. His projects felt spontaneous to me, yet he knew the objective in detail. The sketchbook was his only required textbook. He was also just a cool guy, and his classroom-studio was my sanctuary during those high school years.
What advice have you heard about making visual art that you think should be taken with a grain of salt, and why? What would you say differently?
There is a misconception in the visual art community one has to be naturally talent at classic drawing. That’s a lie. If you want to play around with visual art, then I invite you to start with writing your name. I’m being serious, dude. If you can develop beautiful penmanship, you can become a great artist within time. Just know you’ll make loads of bad art before you get in the groove. Play is key.
What inspires you?
Ever met someone who is living in the present? The kind of person that is walking the walk, without hanging onto a future fantasy. They are in a current state of self-love. Inspiration comes from their energy. It could be the local barista who says good morning in a different tone or a smiling stranger on the bus. Their presence wakes me up a bit, reminding me to be mindful. From there, I can start my creative work.
Who is your favorite artist?
I wrote a 10 pg. paper on this person. I have read his journals, in addition to seeing a few works in person. It’s better to watch this short video of him, then have me grapple with dialogue like a bubbly fangirl.
What’s your favorite work that has appeared on Textploit, and why?
It’s an old one with a cool story. The figure in the middle was a happy accident. I spilled some ink, proceeding with an improvisational ‘fuck-it’ mindset of painting. Before that piece, I planned out the theme and message of every painting. Thumbnails. Alternative Layouts. Gesture Sketches. This was the first time where I let the message develop with the physical art, and oddly I consider it my cap-stone piece from my high school years.
Some artists listen to music while they are in the creative process. Do you? If so, what kind of music?
If I am alone in the studio, I let Brian Eno, Lissie, Talos, and several others join me. However, my favorite music is human conversation. With peers around gabbing about their day’s outcomes, I am home.
What are your other hobbies?
Athletics contribute to part of my identity. Visual Art is a steady process, so it’s a nice change of pace to perform as an athlete. I was a competitive runner in the past. Track and Field. Cross Country. Trail Running. A hint of parkour, but my favorite sport is rugby. Oh boy. Since joining the UGA’s Women’s Rugby Team, I have been adopted into a new culture. The compassionate thrill for which I have been searching.
If you can have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Prince. I would love to ask him what he thought of his life, in terms of how it unfolded. We could talk about fame, love; loss. I also hear he made killer pancakes. Breakfast for dinner. Yummm!