After installing their artwork at The Ramp Gallery, Salome joined me upstairs and spoke about their latest exhibition, Higher self. We talk candidly about Salome’s design choices, their mental health explorations, and the realizations that come from doing inner child work.
SOMArts: Thank you so much for bringing your work to The Ramp Gallery! Can you tell us about yourself?
Salome: I have a photography background and I went to school at the Academy of Art University. I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia and I came straight from high school.
SOMArts: That’s a very brave trip to do by yourself. In your exhibit, Higher self, you’re very present and now thinking about your move from Altanta to California, is solitude something you explore in your work?
Salome: I would definitely say that is something I deal with a lot in my work. The piece Embrace was definitely sort of the conclusion of me exploring mental health and my feelings of being depressed. Higher Self does kind of a shift into thinking about higher being. Being meaning this bigger, larger than life version of yourself, that is delegating things that you should be doing while you’re here. It’s there to help you essentially.
SOMArts: Can you talk to us a bit about the design of the exhibition? The show begins with you embracing and holding yourself, then the middle piece ascends, joined by the two pieces alongside the larger piece looking towards that ascension.
Salome: I’m wearing black and white, and the black represents myself and the white represents my subconscious. It’s essentially—embrace is me trying to embrace the different aspects of myself that I might not either be aware of, or parts that I’m trying not to pay attention to.
I’m also thinking about inner child work and trying to embrace that smaller version of myself, who, you know, was going through stuff. Healing the inner child and being there for myself for at least longer.
I did a similar piece previously, in the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s about being softer and kinder to myself as well. We’re just kind of sending out signals to each of my selves.
SOMarts: That’s powerful and you’re doing something really cool, you’re talking about how they both coexist together.
Salome: Yeah, exactly. There is sort of a phrase that I kind of made up, “melancholic nostalgia.” There will be times where I’m saying, “This is great. I feel great!” but I’m also thinking about time when I have been depressed. I feel like it’s gonna come and sneak up on me. I’m looking out for it and then going back into it, and almost missing it, but not really, you know?
Thinking about nostalgia and how it’s yourself pining over your past essentially. I think about how that’s something familiar. It’s a familiar feeling and the idea is that not feeling sad and depressed is unfamiliar. So you’re almost missing those times when you were depressed.
SOMarts: How does art help you stay in that familiar or unfamiliar place?
Salome: I enjoy working with my hands and I love doing self portraiture. Art is definitely a way for me to examine either my mental state, or at least give myself something to do. That’s always something I like doing with my portraiture work, it’s a way for me to just explore myself, my thinking, and what I’m going through. Honestly, I just want to play around more with different materials. By doing self portraiture, it’s definitely helped me be more confident in myself, in my body, and helping with body image. I’m constantly looking at myself, in an artistic sense and it’s allowed me to build myself up.
For people who want to be an artist, just go for it. I believe that anyone is capable of making art. Going to school afforded me the time to think about art, because I feel like I’m always thinking about art too. Look at other artists, go to museums, figure out what you sort of gravitate towards, and exploring those ideas. Everyone has a voice and no two people are gonna have the same idea. You can have their own unique version.
To learn more about Salome’s work please visit their Instagram: @artistomelas
Salome El’s exhibit, Higher self is on view from November 9th, 2022 – February 6th, 2023
To learn more about their exhibition please visit here.