ST.ART Artist in Residence 2020 – XOCHI SOLIS
Xochi Solis (b. 1981) is an Austin, TX-based mixed media artist. Her works include multilayered, collaged paintings constructed from paint, hand-dyed paper, vinyl, plastics, and images from found books and magazines. Solis considers the repeated act of layering a meditation on color, texture, and shape, all leading to a greater awareness of the visual intricacies found in her immediate environment, both natural and cultural.
Born in Austin, Tejas and a graduate of Bowie High School in 1998. Solis attended UT Austin and received a BFA in Studio Art in 2005. In her own words, Solis shares insight into her practice and an enthusiasm for connecting with our 2020 ST.ART students:
Interview with Xochi
What excites you about working with our summer students? Is there any info you’d like to share with students about how they might interact with you?
The most exciting thing for me about working with students this summer is to return to a skill set in higher education that I put on the shelf 3 years ago since leaving my role as Director of Public Programming at the VAC. I met my lifelong mentor when I was 19 years old in a 3D Drawing class at UT Austin. This artist changed my life dramatically by offering a learning environment that was both honest and hopeful. Until that moment, I hadn’t had a woman identifying teacher reach out to me in this way and it set me on a path of curiosity, self confidence, and resilience. A path that opened me up to so many opportunities. I hope that I can be a beacon for other women identifying and/or artists of color who are looking for a connection on their creative path. My studio door will be open for students to visit and ask me anything.
What is your preferred material to work with?
I work primarily in paint and collage and prefer using materials that are found and maybe less precious than those sourced from art supply stores. Materials such as house latex paint, a variety of paper sourced from art stores to estate sales, naturally dyed paper, vinyl, plastics, and images from found books and magazines.
Who inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by rebels, revolutionaries, crusaders, and true originals. Whether it is creating a multilayered collage painting or a mix of music as a vinyl DJ, I am motivated to produce cultural offerings that folks can identify with on a universal level where there is room for themselves to come to their own conclusion.
What is your art making process like?
My art making process is unstressed and organic. It is the one place I feel absolutely confident and trust each step my body and mind make together in unison towards an artwork’s completion. My practice as an artist is both within and outside of the walls of a studio. I incorporate travel into my practice—specifically between Texas and the Borderlands of the US & Mexico to states within Mexico—and am hugely influenced by the natural world and model compositional forms after the curves of the myriad of human bodies I see and the textures I find in leaves, stones, and sloping landscapes. I spend a lot of time thinking about layers, both physically, culturally, and emotionally. I think about all the layers of my personality, the layers of my personal history and heritage, and then of course in my art work I think about the harmonious irregularities in the layers of my materials that create a whole. I consider that just because a layer is not visible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; that the effort and process of collecting a stack of visual information to put into one work is the work. As of late, I have really been into considering my collage works and all their layers as a way of condensing time and changing narratives. I was presented with this idea in the context of music and DJing as I was reading a book by an acquaintance of mine called UPROOT: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture. In it the author Jace Clayton talks about how when you mix music you can play two songs back to back or interwoven that are decades or maybe even a century apart and through your process you collapse time and thus create a narrative that is both unnatural, but also extraordinary. It is like you are a time traveler getting to put all the pieces together to create a new vision, perhaps a corrected or better suited narrative than previously existed. Apart from the extra cool time traveler part, there is a lot of power that exists when you think about changing history for a better present or future, even if it is in an abstract way.
What is your favorite thing about summer in Austin?
Born and raised in this city, summer has always been my favorite time in Austin. I love the sound of cicadas returning to the tops of Live Oak trees serenading us with their high pitched drones. I fully embrace the signal to move slower as the intense heat cripples our usual need for speed. I especially love the strange hallucinogenic vibes that August brings, after several solid weeks of 100 plus degree days when the temperature starts to go to your brain and you begin seeing things through the wobbly waves of heat coming off the ground.
2020 ST.ART Intensive Collaborative Project
Xochi developed and led 2020 ST.ART Intensive students through a zine swap project. Students created zines from their homes during quarantine and physically mailed master copies to UT Austin. Working with the ST.ART team, Xochi helped to produce small editions of each zine and mail a copy of each zine to students.