Featured Artist Fine Art

Leaf Sanchez: Progress is not about making people feel comfortable

Leaf Sanchez focuses on architecture, illustration, photography, painting, digital design, basket making, and 3d rendering. Her artwork appears in published books and media, major hotel spaces, commercial logo design, advertising, government programming, and public and private gallery collections.

Leaf’s intricate work synthesizes minimalism, tranquility, and boldness. She uses color and the ability to capture the unexpected to help viewers rethink this world and beyond. While Sanchez often presents otherworldly beings and settings, her culture informs the organic characteristics of her work. Leaf ultimately amplifies the indigenous perspective as she moves past the boundaries of art.

An Interview with Leaf Sanchez:

When and how did you discover your passion and place as an artist?

Art has always been influential in my life. I come from a family of artists who encouraged me in art, music, and writing. Although art is unjustly the least supported and funded area in public education, it was as equally vital to my personal growth as academics. While I know what my art means to me, I do not know where I am categorized in the art world.

Describe your aesthetic.

Overall, I describe my aesthetic as bubble goth. I balance heavy elements with lite elements. My work reflects opposing elements and the relationships between power and strength. I use scifibebe as my main # to relate to the otherworldliness aura in my work.

Your focus includes architecture, illustration, photography, painting, digital design, basket making, and 3D rendering. How do all these different facets interact with each other through your creative process?

Each media gives me freedom and room to experiment within that context. I develop new thought and practice in each piece because I think it’s important for each media to expand independently. The creative process is different for each one and the overlapping element is my thought process. For me to stay creative and growing, I approach and learn from each individual media and perhaps use parts of the method, but not necessarily the aesthetic, from a different media.

Architecture requires structure and limitation on a whole other level with much less freedom. The other media allows me to have absolute creative freedom. I need and enjoy both control and chaos.

Have you had any experiences at university or in your career that exposed the gender inequality in the art world?

There is often a stigma for being an artist in the architecture space. Although architecture is a creative field, engineer-produced thinking and practice is viewed as premier. Regarding my work, there may be a presumption that I perform off intuition without logic or a basis because my architecture designs are not entirely box-like and because I am a woman of color. At times, I am required to provide extra explanation and work harder to demonstrate to critics and colleagues that my designs had logic, answered the problems, and the form displayed function and program. I think intuition makes many people uncomfortable or intimidated because it can’t be quantified or taught. But I think intuition is necessary in any creative field. Progress is not about making people feel comfortable.

In the art world I think women are generally devalued and taken less seriously. All curators who have selected my work for a show have been female. Without female support, accomplishing my first series of shows would have been more difficult. At the same time, I have many genuinely supportive male architecture and art mentors.

Truly, most women start at a platform with less automatic resources and influence than men and must work harder to get to the same career and recognition point as men. I do not get overwhelmed by unethical treatment because I transform the inequity into fuel to produce stellar work. While I don’t think there is any field that reflects authentic gender or racial equality, I, and other women, must persist to succeed and thrive. The ultimate end goal is to stay true to myself and create a better society for future generations.

What brought you to incorporate the indigenous perspective in your art?

The Indigenous perspective is in my art because my culture is a part of my identity and experience as a human being. However, I don’t try to isolate one aspect of who I am into one work. Rather, I collectively put myself in my art work. Whether people see that or not is up to them.

Your artist statement describes art is designed to help viewers rethink the world and beyond. What is one vision of this rethinking?

I like being ambiguous with time. I don’t think progress means forgetting the past and I don’t think the future is strictly technological. If my work activates my audience whether it be questioning what my thesis is or how a reality relates to one’s origin or relationship with time then it’s a cause for rethinking.

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