July 2015

Cecilia Salama’s work references the virtual/digital world while remaining enticingly tactile. We recently had the chance to visit her Bushwick studio. She shared with us her secret art beginnings, fascinations with the physical lifestyles and products behind digital personalities, as well as what she has on the horizon.

1. Your work is a mix of virtual/digital motifs combined with heavily textured materials. How did this relationship begin?

My work is process driven – I get excited about materials first and figuring out ways to manipulate them. I think the relationship between virtual and digital first began a few years ago when I was making work secretly in my parent's basement – I was taking progress pics on my iPhone to send to friends, like a virtual studio visit. I wanted to incorporate that aspect of digital documentation and manipulation into the process. Now it's kind of this endless fluid cycle, working in the space between physical and digital. I create tactile sculptures to mimic digital "Adobe Suite" processes like the liquefy tool, then use those as raw material to create digital prints for fabrics and outdoor home mats. Each body of work feeds into the next. 

2. Some of your work indirectly references bathrooms and office spaces. What is it about these spaces or the materials they provide that strikes a chord with you?

I'm inherently drawn to generic domestic and corporate motifs because they allude to the contemplation of when people use the computer, which will usually either be in a home or at an office. Who is the person behind the Tumblr you follow? What kind of home do they have? What kind of toilet paper do they use? These are things you don't really think about when browsing the internet but when you are forced into a gallery space looking at the same Home Depot towel rack you have at home, it gives you a funny feeling. You spend all this time in a virtual world but there is always this sense of grounding, being attached to the physical world.

3. You said that your work is process driven. What kind of lessons have you learned in developing this process? 

Safety first - I'm trying to limit the amount of toxic materials I use. 

4. What are your thoughts on the Internet as an art viewing tool, does it add or takeaway from the traditional art viewing experience?

I think there will always be things that are hidden when you only see documentation on the internet, and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I prefer to be close enough to touch.

5. Which artists challenge you to see/feel the possibilities in art outside of your own field of vision?

I continue to come back to these four artists: Karla Black, Ditte Gantriis, Anne de Vries, David Hammons (The 2011 L&M Arts show in particular).   

6. Can you tell us about the group show that you were in at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery titled, “The Shared Patio”?

The Shared Patio is a show I curated that dealt with artists who sample imagery from their own past work as well as historical references, and through an individual series of material processes both physical and digital, liberate their paintings from "the image". It's like trying to territorialize this space in contemporary painting which you can't ever really own, but that doesn't mean you stop trying.

7. In terms of imagery that translates into your work, what are your current fascinations? 

Bath mats, shower caps for your shoes.

8. At the moment what inspires you?

This video 

9. What do you have planned in terms of upcoming shows?

Currently I'm in a group show at Circuit12 Contemporary in Dallas that's up until August 18th, and then I have two solo shows opening this fall – one at The Java Projects in Greenpoint opening September 26th, and one in LA at Windo Gallery opening October 15th. 

Follow Cecilia on Instagram.

Visit Cecilia's website.