MIND BODY SOUL INSTALLMENT
The inaugural Exhibit, Mind Body Soul, was the talk of the town at the Lowell Ryan Projects back in January. The show is an masterpiece of masterpieces from the visions of artists Spencer Lewis, Samuel Jablon and Maysha Mohamedi. We got a few words in with these creative contributors to get a better feel for the inspirations and implications of their work.
How did you discover your sensibility as an artist? Did you immediately identify with your Iran roots and Farsi calligraphy as a means to your vision or did it take time to discover?
I discovered my artistic sensibility at 10 years old. My mom took me to a remote wholesale plant nursery and as I was walking through the aisles by myself, an invisible, oncoming force seized my neck with what felt like a latticed burning sensation. Around the same time I read a Salvador Dali biography which included an anecdote from his childhood about how he used to lie naked in the sun with cornmeal poured on top of his genitals, allowing the cornmeal to dry and pop in the heat; I didn't understand the implications of why he aimed to generate that particular sensation, but I knew I wanted to live my life in service of creating idiosyncratic worlds that are both visible and invisible, inexplicable, pleasurable and wondrous. Farsi was my first language and backgammon was my first board game, but I identified more with being a California surfer girl while growing up. I've since rediscovered my Persian self and now I am like Scrooge McDuck, joyously flapping around in the sea of riches that is my own cultural heritage.
What attracts you to tar as an artistic medium? Is it directly related to your writings about interactions with the natural world?
What attracts me to the tar is that it exists entirely outside of consumerism. Prospecting, collecting and distilling this material for use as paint further imbues each mark with meaning because the entire life cycle of the mark originates from my hand alone. The beach tar is also gorgeous and the richest black color I've ever seen. Black form a tube is notoriously lacking in depth and richness.
Was your process any different for these two pieces being they were created on site?
The main difference was painting with an audience. For example, I won't make a mark on the surface unless I am 100% compelled to - which means sometimes I sit in my chair watching the painting for long stretches of time - and I felt a bit self-conscious of this apparent idleness in front of the construction crew who was working tirelessly to finish the gallery.
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