Studio Visit: Xochi Solis
Xochi Solis' studio is a homey place that looks like one of her artworks writ large
Tucked away in a Cherrywood cul-de-sac (the neighborhood newsletter: The Flea) is a small lavender and yellow garage-studio. There, Xochi Solis builds up small painted collages – stacks of discrete blobular forms pasted onto museum board. Her primary studio surface, her grandfather's large dining table, is respectfully covered in protective brown craft paper. The table looks like one of her artworks writ large: cut paper, found images, paint swatches, and paintings on Dura-Lar all pile in the kind of organized chaos that encourages a constant discovery and rediscovery of her primary materials. She, like some Austin artists, balances a studio practice with a job in the arts, where contact with other artists is frequent. "I'm not so hard-lined to separate out my office time, my studio time, and my community time," says Solis earnestly. "They all blend."
Austin Chronicle: How long have you been in this studio?
Xochi Solis: I've been in this studio space for seven years now. My first studio-mate was a friend from art school who lived in a duplex down the street. Rental places turn over fairly quickly in this neighborhood. We were here together for two years, and since she moved away I've had a strange, revolving cast of supporting characters.
AC: How has that affected your studio practice?
XS: Well, because this studio space is small – it does affect me. I don't ever work with my studio-mates, nor is there any real collaboration. But just their physical space, their energy, affects me. For a long time I had only female studio-mates, and now I've also had male studio-mates. My current studio-mate, who is about to move out, is an animator, and so there are all these computers in here. I've consciously tried to keep computers and laptops away from my studio space, and it's been interesting to be in the studio with all these machines. But it's what he does, and that's fine because ultimately the studio is not superprivate to me.
AC: That's interesting because some artists see the studio as a comparatively private environment, a place to work and develop ideas. Why is the studio a less private space to you?
XS: I think I just enjoy community, and I try to be open to other's ideas and receiving information. For my particular painting practice, I'm always looking at things – incorporating found images from magazines and handbills – and then using them. So I'm always seeking something and then fiddling and finally constructing from what I find. So gathering images, paper, people, ideas – it's all part of the same process.
AC: This table is really great! When you fiddle and construct your collages, do you stand or sit?
XS: I sit when I'm putting the collages together, but I stand when I'm painting on Dura-Lar [a kind of transparent sheet that easily accepts wet media like paint]. Regardless, though, I have a good time, and I almost feel guilty saying how much fun I have! If I don't feel like coming to the studio, I'm not here – and that doesn't make me a bad artist or any less committed. For me, the studio is ultimately a homey space where I can sit, read, or eat lunch. And yeah, make work.
Xochi Solis is a painter, director of public programming for the University of Texas' Visual Arts Center, and a member of the currently nomadic (not "now-defunct," as I wrote in the previous column) MASS Gallery. Solis' work is up at Take Heart boutique – www.takeheartshop.com – through September. For more information, visit www.xochisolis.com.