We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Ryan Stallones and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erica, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by systems of language and organization and by embodied experience. The stars, numbers, rainbows and gradients: methods of classification, interpretation and divination that exist to show us where we are and where we can be. I am interested in the way my own experience differs from yours. I am inspired by shared mythologies, Egyptian tableaux, Cycladic and Pre-Columbian figures, the Tarot and the I Ching, spirit photography, and stories of alien encounters. I often use movement and directed collaboration to attempt to reach outside of myself, to look for common ground, and to celebrate difference. I am inspired by Alice Neel, Francesa Woodman, Kerry James Marshall’s use of primary colors, Roy Orbison standing 6 feet away from the microphone, Crystal Gayle’s Greatest Hits, and so, so many people making art right now. I am inspired by the writing of Agnes Martin and the fragments of Sappho, Yvonne Rainer’s color-coded dance diagrams, empty sports fields, star charts and maps of any kind, accidentally melodramatic monologues, ecstatic states, humor and horror, and really good stage lighting.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Although my practice is interdisciplinary and idea-based, I tend to identify primarily as a painter because of the essential role that image-creation plays in my process. My recent video and performance projects are large-scale, loosely scripted, often durational endeavors inhabiting the wobbly space between social practice and theatre. My aim is to explore ideas from every direction – physically, literally, metaphorically, and through the eyes and bodies of people other than myself. Bodies of work that appear to be separate in material or structure are connected by the persistent and unavoidable quest for the recognition, understanding, and application of a shared mythology. Visitation Station, a body of work that was created during quarantine and exhibited at General Projects in late 2020 and early 2021, is an installation of thirteen intimate paintings and audio narratives stemming from historical, mythological and contemporary accounts of extra-ordinary encounters. Another recent solo exhibition, Star Deck Academy, featured 144 short videos, 98 paintings, and a limited edition set of tarot-adjacent cards. This ongoing body of work has expanded to include two new video pieces with accompanying interactive lectures and movement workshops. In addition to traditional spaces, I am proud to have worked with artist-run, multi-platform, and alternative spaces in Los Angeles and internationally. An as interdisciplinary artist, I am excited by the possibilities of intersectionality in art: bridging categories and expanding static definitions of how art is made, where it is displayed, and for whom it is made accessible. It’s not easy, and I’m not there yet. Hopefully I never will be, because I don’t want to stop stretching.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hosting out-of-town visitors is one of the things I miss most right now. I grew up in LA County, and I am a true evangelist for the City of Angels. What interests me most about “a place” are the long and short histories of the people who live there. This is Tongva land that was once a part of Mexico and became a beacon for wanderers risking everything to “make it.” My guest and I would visit historic Hollywoodland and the graves of stars, spiritual leaders and weirdos. We would spend lots of time in the landscape: hiking up hills, sitting under palm trees in someone’s backyard, and maybe meeting my mom at a botanical garden to watch her stealthily harvest seeds from native plants. If time allowed, we would definitely drive down to Baja and sit on an empty beach for a couple of days eating fried fish. We would spend at least one entire day in The Valley where we would buy too many books at The Illiad, eat at Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ; and (if we lived in a just world where magical places weren’t forced to close) end up at Oil Can Harry’s where I would watch my guest, maybe a punk scholar from Berlin, learn to two-step from a pro. I would share the gospel of LA’s guardian angel of cuisine, Jonathan Gold, as we feasted on diner breakfasts, Ethiopian spreads, Northern Thai curries, and more than one Szechuan banquet with endless pitchers of plum juice. And maybe I should have led with this, but have you ever witnessed someone eating a taco for the very first time? There’s a table near my house that makes the best tacos al pastor con piña on fresh corn tortillas every weekend.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In a city where everyone deserves to be rich & famous (read: successful), but where we are asked to spend too much of our time struggling to pay the rent and trying not to think about our student loan debt, I want to say Thank You to all of the wonderful artist-run spaces and the heroes behind them who are sincerely interested in bringing art and music to communities and providing a platform for those of us who just can’t stop making things. There are too many to name, so I’ll just shout out the spaces that hosted my last two solo exhibitions in LA. Big thanks to Elephant and to Insert Blanc Press, General Projects. What you do is important.

Website: http://www.ericaryanstallones.com

Instagram: @air_ick_huh

Image Credits
David Weldzius, Josh Schaedel, Cameron Stallones

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