Siolo Thompson: siolothompson.com
She was recently signed by the publishing house Llewellyn Worldwide who will produce her own tarot deck, The Linestrider Codex in 2016. We are thrilled to be able to showcase some of the originals from this series at Antler.
Everywhere I have lived has brought some influence to my work. I was born in Western Samoa but grew up mostly in South America. The Andean landscape of Bolivia and Peru will always be a part of who I am internally. On the other hand, it's been very hard to figure out how to use those influences in my art without feeling like I'm appropriating something that isn't mine. For example I spent a good portion of my life speaking Spanish and I still often dream and think in Spanish but I don't use Spanish text in my work because I'm still trying to find a way to do it respectfully and in a fashion that represents my experience without implying that I understand or represent anyone else's experience. On that front, I still have a lot to figure out!
2. What do you love most about where you live now?
The Pacific Northwest constantly amazes me with it's sheer beauty and the sense of constant opportunity and progress. I live in Seattle and am fully enamored with the city, the climate, and the sense that things are happening here. I feel like the world is aware of Seattle as this incredibly dynamic place where history is being made. I am grateful to live here in this exact moment in space and time.
The body of work I am presenting at Antler is part of my Linestrider Tarot series. Over a year ago I decided to create a full 78 card tarot deck. I'll admit that I started this project on a whim, I didn't have a ton of tarot experience or knowledge, it was a purely aesthetic venture to begin with. As the project began to take shape and as I ventured more deeply into tarot I became more and more inspired by the history of the images and by the challenge of bringing them to life in my own way. Many of my projects take that kind of path, what may start out as a visual dalliance often becomes a kind of research project where each level of information uncovered feeds my interest in continuing.
4. If you weren’t an artist, what would you do with your life?
My other great love in life is writing. If I were not creating visual art, I'd be writing. In fact, I feel certain that I will spend a lot of time in the future crafting words rather than images. I don't see the two professions as necessarily separate, in both cases you have the potential to build worlds, pull new beings out of the ether, open windows to alternate points of view. You can paint with words as well as you can speak with images, there is power in both mediums. The other profession I flirt with is cooking. I have frequent, ill advised, daydreams about opening a little six table restaurant that features updated versions of the Andean foods I grew up cooking.
5. Do you listen to/watch any form of media while working? If so, what is it and how does it influence your process?
The first stage, the idea stage, in my process requires a clear mind and I never listen to anything when I'm trying to figure out how to start a piece. Once I know what I am doing and the work becomes execution rather than planning, then I am all about the Podcasts. The BBC "Arts and Culture," podcasts are my current obsession but there are so many people out there making great content - the New Yorker's, "Political Scene", for example and of course NPR and the excellent things they produce. And yes! I am often really inspired and influenced by these programs. I've found myself exploring whole themes and digging up obscure historical references based on things I've listened too. For example my next solo show, Marginallia, at the Holleri Gallery in Vienna, Austria - was inspired by a BBC podcast on mediaeval scholars.
Ha! Well, I don't really believe in censorship. Even the things I think of as offensive or worthless have their places, even if the only function they serve is as conversation fodder. I think we suffer from a phenomena I refer to as the tyranny of like, where the value of art is based on it's popular appeal, or in specific terms how many 'likes' it gets on social media. It's a damaging trend in my opinion. If the only things that make it into the public eye are the things that have enough popular appeal to make it past the data gatekeepers, we will never see the art that makes people uncomfortable, the confrontational art, the ugly, the hard to understand. On a more superficial level, if I ran a Republic I would probably outlaw body painting. Specifically I be happy to never see another woman painted like a jungle cat.
7. Conversely, whom would you commission to make your visual art propaganda?
Gosh, I know a lot of insanely talented folks. I think if I could talk Redd Walitzki into doing my campaign posters that would be a great place to start. Casey Weldon could paint all the presidential cats for me. Jason Borders would need to be recruited to create my presidential embellished skull head dress. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could keep most of the artists in the community busy!
Forward!! Always forward. My son and I argue about this all the time. He would go to the 70's or somewhere in the 15th or 16th century but I can only imagine myself going forward.
9. Extrovert or Introvert?
A combination of both, of course. I am the artist type that can easily shut themselves up in the studio for days and days but then I also have my hyper social moments. I do need alone time or I get incredibly grouchy. I'm lucky to have a lot of super wonderful friends that help me get out of the studio occasionally, if not I would probably stop dressing like a human and let my hair grow into a single paint scented dread lock.
10. Outer space or deep sea?
Now there is an important question! I actually don't feel that there is a big difference between the two things. I am a total sci-fi nerd and fascinated by outer space exploration. If the opportunity to settle Mars arose I would go. Right now. I also love swimming in the ocean, I love diving, and I think I love the ocean in part because it feels like space. When you are down there surrounded by water and feeling weightless it's easy to imagine being in space. Just the thought of it makes me happy!