I recently hired braveartconsulting to produce my first show in August of this year at Santa Fe Collective in Santa Fe, NM. Braveart hammered me on many issues to learn more about me, my artwork and my thoughts behind it all. Here’s how that interview went down…
Braveart: Can we ask you a few questions - much like the conversation we had with you in your studio the other day?
Leda Salazar: Yes.
Braveart: What inspired you to create art that focuses intensely on the female anatomy - the vagina? Is there a message or commentary in your mind when making and painting and sculpting vaginas? Like some people the Jewish faith who possess Nazi memorabilia or African Americans who use the, “N-word” as a means to reclaim the power of that which once oppressed them?
Is the focus on vaginas sort of a neo-post-femmisnist reclamation of the female body and a form of empowerment?
Leda Salazar: I was inspired by something that [my painting instructor at Santa Fe University of Art and Design] Willy Richardson said: "If you are going to paint, and you don't know what to paint then paint something you like!" (That was paraphrasing slightly) So I asked myself "What do I like? Oh! Vaginas!" I chose to focus primarily on the female form and predominantly, the vagina, because it is something I am (like literally) close to and I love. To me it is something that is funny, beautiful, strange, natural, alien, icky, alluring. The vagina has a spectrum of emotions that it evokes in people. I like that. I like to think I embrace all of it's qualities - in my artwork
Leda Salazar: And with some of that said I can see and appreciate why women have been referred to as the other. Although it isn't even a compliment. But Vaginas are mysterious.
I don't consider myself a feminist, but I can see how my work swims in that vein. And I wouldn't say I am reclaiming but I do feel empowered through my work. It feels good knowing that I am being candid and strong when saying Vagina or telling people that I make vaginas. Cuz in high school I wouldn't even say vagina! That was like such an ewww word. But once you find out what the vagina is all about on all levels it is something to be so proud of and I can't help but appreciate it.
Braveart: What artists or art forms would you say are influences for you? Marylin Mintor, for example - and her video, "Green Pink Caviar" (below) What do you think of her work?
Leda Salazar: Marilyn Minter, yes. The caviar video is super visceral and sexual at the same time. It has the icky, sexy stuff I was talking about. I also love the colors that she uses. . .
I also like Jeff Koons, Frida Kahlo, Sarah Lucas, Traci Emin (She is very candid and raw. But annoying), Cindy Sherman, Georgia O'keeffe [sort of] - I tend to get pigeon holed with her and am like "ugh ok I get it" "tell me something I haven't heard".
Braveart: Regarding feminism - the widely understood, universal definition of feminism is: equal rights for men and women. What is your view?
Leda Salazar: That's what I was taught in college so that's my understanding of it. I guess my ethics run with that definition as well, but I still don't label myself as a feminist. The word feminism also has a huge stigma and so maybe I am just not identifying as one because I have not let go of the stigma all together.
Braveart: Ah, ok. What is the stigma that you feel is associated with feminism?
Leda Salazar: That you are an aggressive radical feminist dyke who is offended by everything and thinks all men should die. And that is totally not true but that was the consensus of the feminist study class I took on the "stigma".
Braveart: You are working on an installation for your pop-up in August - can you describe what you intend to make for the show?
Leda Salazar: I am going for an exploding vagina forest with color and vibrancy. A wisteria like looming forest of cascading and fluttering vaginas. It is a long creeping plant or over abundant hanging tree of vaginas. I hope everyone that comes can relate in one way or another to a vagina that speaks to them. I am trying to make vaginas in as many colors and textures as possible.
Braveart: This is great. And I totally get what you mean by the stigma.
What a pleasure to speak with you. Until next time...
Leda Salazar: Ok good.