Christopher Santiago. painting, video, sound
East Setauket, NY
painting, video, sound
"My life has been turned upside down, as most everyone else's has been too. I pray that this crisis can be a rude awakening to how our current political economy is unsustainable, but I fear that humans will continue to engage in practices and beliefs that will lead to the death of the planet. When the virus hit Bushwick, Brooklyn, NYC, my girlfriend Melinda and I were lucky enough to escape to my mom's house on Long Island, where we have more space and there are less people. Our current art practice has been deeply altered, from living in a bohemian DIY art collective in BK, where we could do pretty much as we pleased, with nightly performances in our basement, to a situation where we have to wait for a nice day so we can paint outside and not get anything on the carpet. We've survived by making art with whatever's around (crayons, markers, whiteout etc.) on cold, overcast days, and painting in the backyard on nice days. We've been recordings tracks of us playing music and sending them to friends who add their own overdubs from the safety of their own quarantine bunkers.
"Sleeping Person Rises Into the Sky" is a new series that I've been working on. I had a vision one day, after working a 15 hour day, including a 5 hour commute, back and forth to The College of Staten Island, where I work. I was exhausted, furious and heartbroken..... and in this moment of despair, my unconscious found or created this image: I saw a person laying on their back, in the middle of the road, sleeping but rising up off the ground and floating away into the sky, passing through various states of consciousness. The blues in the image calmed me and gave my spirit the rest it needed. It was comforting and soothing, like some mystical yin, watery, feminine force, the power of dreams, telling me to take heart and find solace in meditation. Then as if the universe heard my cry, the pandemic hit, and I no longer needed to make that terrible commute. I love my students, my colleagues and I really love teaching, but I fear I will not be able to continue doing so in such a hopeless job market. I've been complimented various times by faculty and students alike because of my passion and drive to share the wisdom that I've gathered... but it might not be enough.
One positive outcome from this crisis is that I will be able to finish oil paintings. Working outside, being able to directly observe nature in all of its beauty, has been wonderful. This time in isolation has been a blessing in the sense that I get to spend lots of time with my girlfriend making art.
I'm also continuing with my old themes of animism, spirits and nature. Over the years I've developed my imagery from simple faces, to more complex masks, to gatherings of masks in the forest surrounding an Earth Mother figure (Pacha Mama in Quechua). Of late, the Earth Mother has begun menstruating, feeding plant spirits as many indigenous cultures believe. It's that time of her ever creative and destructive cycle. My friend and I are trying to publish an article entitled "Blood Magic in The Age of Psychopathy, Mass Shootings and Ecological Catastrophe" which delves into these themes.