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BSDA Artist Interview: Lindsay Stripling

May 20th, 2014 · 4 Comments

Lindsay Stripling is a San Francisco-based artist whose work in watercolor deals with memory, old photographs and family lore. She has six new paintings available today on Buy Some Damn Art.

two portraits

Internal Sunset  /  Into The Woods

Kate: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Lindsay: I am originally from the Bay Area, born in Berkeley, grew up in Rodeo, a small town near the Carquinez Bridge. I am currently living in San Francisco with my partner David and our three dogs in a tiny/wonderful one bedroom apartment. We live right next to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, I don’t know if I could live in the city without such a beautiful place to call my backyard.



Building Fences

Kate: How did you get your start as an artist?

Lindsay: I have always been working on some creative project or another as long as I can remember, whether I was trying to copy my friends’ handwriting and coming up with typography dictionaries or drawing maps to go with stories that my classmates would write in grade school. I still have an old floral tin full of crayons that my Grandma Evelyn would give to my sister and I when we would stay with her for the weekend- that was a staple of our childhood. I think it wasn’t until about six years ago when I was bartending in Santa Cruz that I realized that I could actually be an artist, I know it sounds crazy but for some reason even though I painted and took tons of studio classes I just never really understood that studio artists do exist in the present moment, it just always seemed like something magical from the past.



April Showers

Kate: I’m fascinated by the different ways you layer figures and landscapes in your paintings. What is that about? Are there connections between figure and landscape?

Lindsay: Ah! That’s something I am still working out. I think initially I was trying to discuss time and space and the ambiguity of the two through an absence, or a lack of place. This last year I spent working on the Rememory series, I was leaving faces blank to speak to a lack of identity or loss of memory when I realized that the blank spaces can serve as an entry point into a new place. I am an avid camper and hiker and I love being outdoors and I think the landscapes speak less to my own familial memories and more to a larger societal or collective memory. Landscapes are permanent and changing all at once and public parks and spaces are something we hold close to our hearts. The landscapes used in this series are from old National Geographic photographs of National Parks.



Doldrums (in progress)

Kate: In your artist statement you site the “familial and societal importance of lore, myth and legend”. Are there any particular stories in your family that influenced this work?

Lindsay: There are so many, but it wasn’t the specificity that I was necessarily interested in. My dad’s family is from Florida and they moved all around the south while he was a kid, so there are tons of stories of snakes and him learning to swim in gator infested waters when he was little. My mom’s family is all from Oklahoma and moved to El Sobrante, California before she was born. There are all these photographs of old ranches and farms and stories of tornadoes and things I never experienced as a child. The part that interests me the most is that I never experienced these stories and when I was hearing them as a kid I had no context for gators or tornadoes or even ranches so I began to subconsciously insert my own definition of those things based on the things that I have experienced so those stories bear almost no resemblance to the stories I was told. It’s just one long game of telephone, and I think that act of repeated removal and reinterpretation is what I am striving for.




Kate: Your process involves reinterpreting old photographs. How do you think artists of the future will interpret the archives of our current photo taking?

Lindsay: I think about that a lot actually. It is interesting because we aren’t really creating physical photographs anymore and a major part of archiving photos up until the digital age was all about preservation and restoration and was really tactile. That amount physicality lends itself to a heightened sense of nostalgia, of something having happened but also of something being held and treasured and worn. So its interesting to me that we will be on the opposite end of the spectrum from that, I almost never look through my digital photographs, out of sight out of mind really, and I have a hard time imagining how those stories are going to perpetuate in a similar way when I have kids. I think a lot about what instagram is going to be to our kids, will it be like looking at our parents old Polaroids?? It is going to be interesting! I try really hard to continue to use film just because I miss the physicality and unexpected nature of the photograph but it’s hard, it’s so convenient to grab my iPhone and snap a photo!




Kate: Your work is, on some level, about created or at least reinterpreted histories. Have you ever dreamed of alternative histories of your own?

Lindsay: All the time! Now this is where I will start to sound totally nuts. I sometimes can’t tell if the things that I dreamed are really what I dreamed or if they actually happened. About five years ago I recounted a memory of mine to my mom from when I was six of falling down from the top the stairs where I was sneakily watching TV when I was supposed to be in bed, but after I was done telling the story my mom who was present in the memory told me that it never actually happened. I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out if the reality I am in is one that I have fabricated or one that has happened. It’s both. There’s something liberating in that.