We had the good fortune of connecting with Athena Solan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Athena, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think of risk, in the context of my work and life, as a way to gain perspective and develop myself. Taking risks over the years has brought me closer to my authentic self and more aligned with purpose. Anxiety is one of the most difficult burdens that I have carried the for the longest time. When you live with fear of losing just about anything, taking risks can either help you to develop courage or it can confirm your fears. In this state of ‘either’ ‘or’ I go through periods of time that I am so addicted to taking risks and making change that I have a hard time seeing how far I’ve come. The anxiety itself becomes the energy that sustains the change. My work is honestly a way to see that journey; a snapshot of those developments are layered through the work. In some areas of my life I have achieved more than I thought possible due to the risks I have taken; moving across country, going to art school full time as a single mother of three small children, and developing a bi-monthly juried exhibition out of my studio. In terms of my career, I know I have many more risks to take. My art is a way for me to visually represent psychology and place. People get stuck, addicted, have challenges and make changes. The process of taking risks and its aftermath can be represented in all sorts of ways. Anxiety, for example, can also be isolating and cause rapid spikes of emotion all at the same time. By representing those phases in my work I hope to create an image that people connect with and feel less alone.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artwork is inspired by my interest in psychology and behavior change. I find the quantity of people’s hard-wired and soft-wired programming to be quite fascinating. As people, we often find ourselves in a situation and cannot figure out why we are behaving as we are. I generally have a difficult time relating to people on a surface level. On display in a public setting, my art provides a way for me to express those types of deeper and more layered interactions. My current process is to work with mark making, layering and non-traditional applications of media to present new ways of looking at psychology and landscape. I work in mixed media so that I can focus on an appropriate assemblage of materials; be it drawing, painting, sewing or collage. I use my sewing machine to encourage a consistent rhythm of permanent marks. As a loud machine it can creating the sort of rhythm that helps me go into my work and disconnect from the rest of my day. While sewing, I will feel intense urges to get back to drawing and disassembling fabric, photos or older works. This helps to explore where I have previously been in the piece and why my marks were so rigid, fluid or frantic at that time. My mark making is inspired by repetition or what I might use to represent ‘programming’, and the effects of sudden or ongoing changes to those routines or ‘programs’. We all think someday we will change this pattern we are stuck in, but how long does it take to change it and does it ever really change?
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I do prefer days that consist of hanging at my favorite spots in the company of interesting people. I honestly like to slow things down by sipping coffee and chatting at Exo Roast Co. I enjoy spending time at the Center For Creative Photography and Etherton Gallery viewing their latest exhibitions. I like hiking and being in nature as well. The best local trail to hike with my favorite people is Pima Canyon.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to share my gratitude for the support of Liz Hernandez of ARTEZONA Gallery. Her hard work and dedication to building ARTEZONA is inspiring. She leads with her heart and and knowledge of the business.
Other: https://artezona.com/collections/athena-solan https://www.artsy.net/artezona-gallery