Erica Ryan Stallones uses an omnivorous interdisciplinary approach to exploring and interpreting the visible and invisible systems that order life in the universe. With interests from numerology to the cosmos, earth magic and elemental symbolism. Her site-responsive painting, performance, audio, video and literary exhibitions and installations merge research and intuition in explorations of layered history and collaborative futures. The esoteric but rather urgent purpose of this activity is to more deeply understand the ancient, eternal, ritual and somatic communications between the planet and its residents, the better to figure out how to foster life-saving collaborations now. Her work is on view at ArtCenter as part of the exhibition Cantos of the Sibylline Sisterhood.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ERICA STALLONES: Growing up, I didn’t know there was a difference between being an artist and not being an artist. My dad’s a camera guy, and he took me out of school to visit museums, graveyards, and gardens. I didn’t start painting until halfway through college (first it was theater, photography, costume design) but art is art is life.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about universal systems, shared experience, and the unexplainable bits of life. Sometimes it’s astrological, sometimes there are aliens. It’s painting, performance, video — the medium serves the message.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
In high school I wanted to run away and join a traveling Shakespeare troupe, and I’ve always thought it would be really sexy to be a linguist. Recently I’ve been trying to figure out how you get to be the person who chooses the Pantone color of the year.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I taught Jr. High and High School art and literature for a few years before going back for my MFA. I did it because I wanted to teach college (which I do) and because I wanted to be challenged (which I was). Now I advise students not to pursue a graduate degree until they’re sure it’s the only thing that will satisfy them — that way there’s never the question of whether it was worth the time or money (my student debt is… intense).
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I grew up here and I truly believe in this city. It’s beautiful and complicated, but also expensive. I just had a baby… so if I don’t get rich quick, I plan to escape to a foreign beach town and come back for studio visits.
When was your first show?
In first or second grade, I wrote a poem in school and won first place in a poetry contest. I didn’t know what to write about, so I just called it “Nature” and then listed a bunch of random things that didn’t rhyme. Everyone thought it was very deep, and I remember feeling proud and also like I gamed the system.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I have a bunch of little paintings and a sound piece in a group show called Cantos of the Sibylline Sisterhood at ArtCenter’s beautiful Hillside Campus. It’s a great show, I hope you get to see it. In the studio I’m working on a very large watercolor painting that will document every moon cycle of 2022 and I am collaborating on an opera about the autonomic nerve system.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Music is very important to me, but honestly I often work in silence. I like to let the work speak as loudly as it needs to.
Web and social please!