Christine Sloan Stoddard
performance, video, written word, painting
My practice as an artist is rooted in storytelling, which may assume narrative, expressive, or conceptual modes. I tell stories, as well as invite others to tell theirs. In these offerings and provocations, I often challenge the audience's notions of what stories can be. My work spans analogue and digital, as well as the many places where formats overlap. These range from books to films to sculptural installations to paintings to websites and more. My personal, professional, and academic experiences related to feminism, language, folklore, environmentalism, social justice, mass media, and architecture inform many of my projects. Specifically, I use Quail Bell Magazine as a playground for much of my process.
Lately, I have used my art practice to explore questions about my mother’s native El Salvador, personal identity, and mass media. Connected is my interest in how U.S. media professionals such as my Anglo-American father portray El Salvador and how these portrayals influence Americans under the Trump administration. Then I wonder about my place as a Salvadoran-American, an artist, and the daughter of a journalist. In making these connections, my artwork generates further stories and questions about warfare, immigration, definitions of “whiteness” across borders, cross-cultural notions of femininity, and other matters.
Are you worried?
Yes, and I let myself experience that worry but also try to move through it each day to allow myself to do something other than dwell on it. I still want to create, even when the conditions feel impossible, which is an overwhelming and recurring feeling right now.
How do you stay connected?
I am initiating collaborations with other artist friends and colleagues as much as possible. Even remotely, there's a lot we can do. One recent example was with my short play, "Manioc." I performed it with three other actors—Valentín Sánchez-Stoddard, Mateo Vargas, and Disnie Sebastien—in a live Zoom reading for Poetic Theater Productions on May 3rd. Manioc is a short play that queers the Salvadoran Aztecan myth surrounding the origin of yuca, or cassava. The original myth isn't a love story and it certainly isn't queer, but I decided to make it one. I've been interested in evolving research on gender in Aztec society. Some evidence suggests that the Aztecs saw gender as a fluid and not innate. Currently, I am working on paintings related to my re-telling of the myth. I'm also thinking about how I want to stage the play whenever theaters open again. My own creative practice tends to be fluid; there are so many ways to tell a story.
What are you working on right now?
Film and video projects, writings, paintings.
If there were no restrictions, what is your dream creative project? A series of feature films, books, and paintings that all belong to the same world. My latest book is Naomi & The Reckoning. This novelette follows Naomi, a young woman with a physical deformity living in Richmond, VA. Struggling with body acceptance all her life, Naomi also comes from a strict religious upbringing. Purity culture further complicated her relationship with her body and, now recently married, she can’t find sexual satisfaction.