Isabel Samperio

Isabel Samperio
Senior Studio

It has become apparent to me that I am invested in histories-- personal, material, gendered, racialized-- and my practice is largely about recognizing and responding to them. Ultimately, it is about a history of self; a largely autobiographical endeavor. To prescribe a literalness to my work (although that feels counterintuitive), I would call them visualizations of a subconscious space-- memories-- or of the relationship between mind and matter; materializations of something intangible (a state of being, perhaps). In the broadest sense, I am inspired by life and the visual language it produces and reproduces. Surely everything that has come to me came from somewhere, but where? It is difficult to compartmentalize these different histories, memories, and media on a subconscious level, and in part because we are absorbing visual material all day, all the time. It is seemingly impossible to escape visual stimuli in the neoliberal, hypercapitalist, digital world we currently occupy. Sometimes intentional, but mostly not, I am surrounded by this constant visual material (which includes everything; ranging from graffiti to childhood drawings to instagram ads to the cast shadow by the web of a tree’s branches). I’m fascinated by how different references or visuals can wander into my work as a result of this reflection: the colors I happen to be wearing that day will enter a painting in progress, a star graphic in an ad will become reappropriated or linked to a different visual language of cartoons. More specifically, though, I would consider a lot of my work and my perception of the visual world to be a reflection upon (and reaction to) my childhood, largely subconsciously, but still significant in how it has shaped my understanding of visual symbols, and material and color sensibilities. There is something playfully whimsical, and uncannily zany about my work-- a visual language that wanders between bodily and cartoonish, the use of bright, unexpected color relationships, a distortion of a visual language of pleasure and naivete, juxtapositions of the cute and gnarly, the recurrence of visual symbols that feel like characters. 

I primarily work in painting, and I would consider myself an abstract painter, first and foremost, although I consider painting as an ever expansive, all encompassing project capable of constant experimentation and disruption. I think there is something fundamentally formalist in my approach to painting (thinking about color theory, dialogue with formal relationships), but I am constantly seeking to push this towards a state of instability or uncertainty. ‘Play’ is what I would consider my approach to making. It is about taking a risk, reflecting, responding, reacting. I think my frustration with painting-- its history of conservatism, its limitations, an air of rigidity that has historically surrounded it-- is what drives this. I often look towards ways to push back against painting on a flat, rectilinear surface. The blurring of sculpture and painting in my painted works on found fabric, sewn and filled with various found materials felt natural and inevitable. 

Process is of particular importance to me. Led largely by intuition and subconscious reaction, I work with a firm belief in this power of intuition and chance and there is a constant self awareness and reflection occurring. An uncertainty, or rather a certainty in my uncertainty, is crucial. In thinking about history, the history of the work and the act of making is just as important to me as the ultimate form. I do seek to challenge this notion of finality, though. Everything informs everything, some things bleed to be absorbed by others. I like to maintain this fluidity when working.

Image of studio and works.

Image of prints.

Close up of 'Juicy 0001'.

Close up of work.

Image of 'Starfruit'.


VADA Senior Exhibition 2021

Formatted Title

Staff

Formatted Title

Emeriti Faculty