Slater Sousley received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2017 and is currently enrolled in an MA program at Eastern Illinois University.
MRG: How did your time in Chicago affect your practice?
SS: It’s hard to know where to begin when assessing the impact of my four years living and studying in Chicago, not only on my practice, but also on my life as an artist. I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, so, the exposure to city living certainly gave me a new perspective. The views of the city, its congested streets, and public transportation systems were fascinating to me and became the inspiration for a few of my paintings that depict crowds in urban spaces.
While the city was an inspiration, it was extremely draining – a fact that I embraced in my painting. Yet, I relied on retreats home, as well as to my family’s farm in rural Missouri, to recharge.
MRG: How has your work evolved since leaving Chicago?
SS: After graduation, I completed a working residency in the Italian countryside where, the year prior, I completed a study-abroad course through SAIC. Having had the experience of plein air painting in Italy for two consecutive summers, I came to understand the impact of studying and the pursuit of capturing the elusive experience of nature. Upon my return to America, I proposed to Matthew Rachman, my idea to immerse myself within the woods of mid-Missouri, to absorb the rhythms and patterns, the light and the shadows, the sounds and sensations of nature.
My time spent in the woods working for the show, Still Moments, had an intense impact on my relationship towards painting, my understanding of perception, and the way in which painters work to translate the visual world.
MRG: Do you see your mainly figurative studio works as complimentary to your plein air work, or do you see them as separate entities?
SS: Just as I pushed myself outside, I push myself in the studio. I constantly question visual realities and their impact on the viewer. In this regard, my plein air and my studio work are not different. However, the pace is markedly different. In the landscape I’m in a frenzy racing against the sun; I’m pulled in to the patterns of nature and grapple with untangling the visual maze of forestry; relentlessly reevaluating, reworking, shifting color from one stroke to the next. In my studio, I am afforded the luxury of time, of sitting and dwelling, of mulling over effects of gesture, representation and abstraction, color and form.
MRG: Where do you see your practice going next?
SS: Although I find myself pulled in various directions in terms of what to paint next - constantly pushing my ideas further, one imperative for me is the pursuit of an authentic and honest interpretation of experience. I think it is my role as an artist and a painter to seek to understand my experience and perception of the visual world, to start a dialogue about the shared experience of existence that is simultaneously unique and universal.
If you are interested in viewing Slater Sousley’s work, please contact the gallery to set up an appointment.