Eduardo Sarabia Q&A
April 30, 2021
Artist Eduardo Sarabia creates work that combines autobiographical details with traditional artisan methods through a wide-reaching practice that focuses on the raw and handmade. Spanning ceramics, textile, sculpture, painting, installation, and performativity, Sarabia’s intention is to address cultural impacts and influences to explore how his historical geographical background collides with these. Born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, Sarabia – now based in Guadalajara, Mexico – has developed an aesthetic lexicon to bridge his own experiences with fictional elements, deliberately leaving them vague enough to remain open to interpretation. He believes that blending stories from the past and present can open them up to larger audiences. As part of his collaboration with the Artpothecary as its Artistic Collaborator, Sarabia will debut “The Passenger” at Southern California’s DesertX in May. Below, Sarabia speaks about how his early life experiences translate to his present, the power of storytelling, and art as a tool for empathy.
Why are you excited to work with Maestro Dobel on this project? What parallels can you draw between your values and interests?
Eduardo Sarabia: I live in Guadalajara, Mexico, which has allowed me to work closely with local artisans. The relationships I’ve developed with some of them have opened a world of possibilities for me in terms of production techniques and collaborating with people who work from artisan knowledge. My work focuses a lot on craft methods that intersect with concepts, ideas, and languages that, although contemporary, do not repel each other. For me, mixing knowledge from the past and present is a tool for telling stories and making them understandable for a larger audience. I am very excited about the collaboration with Maestro Dobel because it is a brand that recognizes the expertise, care, and experience of Mexican artisans – in this case, a family of tequila masters. The recognition and closeness with people who have nurtured their cultural background and their knowledge of one or more techniques – that are renewed over time, thanks to work and dedication – is crucial.
What will we see from your collaboration with Maestro Dobel?
Eduardo Sarabia: Regarding my focus on artisanal methods, this collaboration consists of the production of my project ‘The Passenger,’ a site-specific installation for the Palm Springs desert, presented within the framework of Desert X. ‘The Passenger’ is a tribute to transit, to the process of change, growth, and evolution in human beings. Built with petates (a fabric woven out of palms) produced in Jalisco and intervened with handmade embroidery, all by Mexican women artisans, this kind of labyrinth is a place for an intimate encounter, and in many ways, for self-knowledge. Knowing ourselves and recognizing our journey and our background is one of the main engines we have to grow and touch others.
How does Mexico inspire your work as an artist?
Eduardo Sarabia: The starting point of my work is my personal life experiences. Family or friendship trips, the seasons with my family in Sinaloa when I was younger, and my parents’ history have allowed me to know and be permeated by events that make up my background, which, of course, are closely related to Mexican culture. These vestiges of intra-histories that evoke an ancestral Mexico, also contemporary Mexico, allow me to create my own story on topics that interest me. Anecdotes from narco-culture, an approach to southern Mexico’s shamans, or my search for the mythic bird Quetzal, these micro-stories in my work are related to a vision of Power, hidden or invisible learning, Faith, and different belief systems. These are forms of knowledge that I find relevant because they have always been there, and we can learn something from them.
What aspects of contemporary Mexican culture will you draw upon with your collaboration with Maestro Dobel?
Eduardo Sarabia: Something constant in my work is the types of relationships and meeting points that occur inside from certain rituals that we could call ‘contemporary.’ Like the mix between culinary tradition and the great innovation of renowned Mexican chefs, or the internationally known Mexican holidays, such as Día de Muertos. In my case, the party or the celebration as a space for dialogue, for building bridges, has been important in my work. This can be seen in my piece ‘Salón Alemán’ or even my work with tequila. The Fiesta is understood, not as a place of leisure, but on the contrary, as a device that triggers relationships, ideas, links, and recognition of the things that constitute our different identities. I am glad that this line of research allows us, Maestro Dobel and I, to work together and create a strong connection.
What do you hope people take from their experiences with your collaboration with Maestro Dobel?
Eduardo Sarabia: Art offers all of us tools and opportunities to understand how we relate to each other, between different communities, and to rethink how we engage with nature. However, we can get there from different paths. I believe that art contributes to openness for dialogue and closeness to others; fortunately, it has many ways to achieve this. I hope the people who come to visit ‘The Passenger’, and who will know about this collaboration between Maestro Dobel and me, can be interested in these new spaces and meetings that, as different voices, we are trying to raise. For personal knowledge, and also the potentialities of connecting with others, and creating paths together.