Regardless of the re-opening of the highly-lauded SF MoMa a few months ago, it has been said more recently than in past years, that here in San Francisco, art is dead. And to that I would say, “is it?”
Let’s not discredit or disservice our artists who are, as far as I can tell with my own eyeballs and also meeting them, creating works both indicative of their NorCal environment, as well as the the cultural milieu (aka “tech-topia, the tech scene, silcion-valley-the-HBO-years, etc). YES – artists’ studios are being pushed out, often in favor of offices or housing that in the end we can somehow blame on Travis Kalanick or Mark Zuckerberg every time. It’s a travesty, truly. BUT, that’s not what this particular word-story is about. It’s about an artist from El Salvador, living in San Francisco, and creating art that is very much, alive.
Even if art in SF were dead, Dilcia Giron would resuscitate it back to life. (Then we could all call her Dilcia the Resuscitator which is a badass superhero name). My research into Dilcia’s work has drawn me so deeply down this intriguing rabbit hole of creation I’m thinking of setting up shop and just living here for a little while (insert joke about it being cheaper than my current SF rent here).
She has explored her artistic curiosities thoroughly — from collage, to surrealist photography, traditional portraiture, abstract expressionism (the messy ones), video, and performance. For any purists thinking she should focus her craft and hone one of these mediums, please stop reading and go away. It’s this widespread creative energy that has drawn me and others to Dilcia’s work. Let me know next time you find someone who can create A: the collage below, B: the painting below, C: the photograph below and D: the video below, with thoughtful cohesiveness pointing back to one creator.
Not too shabby, right? Now, before curiosity killed the writer, I reached out to Dilcia to get some 411 and some of her thoughts on her life, her work, and her life’s work. I’d like to share:
Vango: Why do you do what you do?
D: I’ve been passionate about art since I was a kid. Throughout the years and after going through several life changing experiences, I came to understand that it was only by creating and making art that I could stay true to myself. The creative process has become an exercise in freedom for me, that is a way that I can dissolve mental barriers and challenge social preconditions and ideas. I feel this is the essential purpose of my existence.
V: Where are you from originally, and how has that shaped you as a person and artist?
D: I was born and raised in the tiniest country of Central America: El Salvador. I grew up in the midst of a complex and constantly changing environment. I come from a very artistic family. My father a Magician, owned a circus and I grew up performing different types of circus acts. At the same time, my country was in the middle of a civil war that lasted for 12 years. There was terror, misery and fear everywhere. I grew up in a very tough environment, but at the same time, this environment was a constant source of inspiration and continually stimulated my creativity. I find myself constantly revisiting those experiences to find that inspiration and ideas for my art.
V: How do you come up with these surreal compositions?
D: I usually start without a specific subject or idea. I collect the images and play around with a variety of juxtapositions. I am always looking for bizarre and unexpected combinations. Little by little connections and patterns begin to appear, ensuring additional layers of mystical meaning.
V: What has drawn you to surrealism?
D: My intention is to explore new ways of reality, by providing a glimpse into the subconscious mind. Each collage is visual storytelling, in which dreams, myths, bizarre and irrational realities are described. They also can carry a spiritual dimension, the symbols within my artwork are set to awaken associations, thoughts and feelings within the viewer thereby providing a confrontation with the hidden self.
V: What is your process like?
D: Spontaneous. I like to be in the moment, following my intuition and inner voice. I go whatever direction the wind takes me.
V: What other types of art do you create?
D: My artistic repertoire includes etching, printmaking, photography, painting, collages, mixed media, performance and collaborations with other artists. Why? Because by practicing different techniques I have more freedom to create and I am not limited by specific techniques.
V: What is your ideal work environment?
D: I like to turn any environment into the “ideal environment” – I am an artist 24/7, so that means I allow myself to create at any given time and place, with whatever is available to me at the moment. I am all for being present, spontaneous and open to the situation. I always carry art tools with me, and if I don’t have art tools, I have my I-phone which I use for photography, video etc. There is no excuse! Just like kids! They turn any place they are into a playground! Take a couple of five years old kids with you to the DMV and see how quick they start finding ways to play and have fun. Well, is the same for me. I look for that freedom, so I try not to limit myself to any particular technique or environment. Is all about being creative and resourceful.
V: What do you do when you’re not happy with a piece you’re making?
D: It depends on the technique I am working on. It is easy to paint over an acrylic painting that I don’t like, but not so easy to start over an etching plate I am not happy with. So I have different approaches – sometimes I just abandon that piece for a while and come back to it later, and I find some new direction to follow.
V: What is the most difficult part of being an artist?
D: Having to deal with society and other people. That can be difficult sometimes.
V: What is the easiest?
D: Getting up from bed every morning! That part is easy all the rest is an unpredictable challenge.
V: What is currently inspiring your work?
D: Life itself. Observations of current experiences and how they reflect on my past.
V: If you could choose one person to own your work, who would it be? Someone who would really appreciate it.
V: Describe yourself in one word:
V: Describe your studio in one word:
V: Besides and artist, who are you?
D: A bag of skin and bones in slow decay.
Dilcia’s mixed media paintings, geometric pieces, and surreal collage are now available on Vango. You can follow her profile to see when she adds new work and watch her career grow.
written by Stephanie Long, Head of Marketing @ Vango