Hip to Be Square
Specializing in geometric pieces, twentysomething Fort Worth painter Sarah Ayala has displayed her work as part of exhibits by Fort Worth’s Art-Hunger Collective and at The Museum of Geometric Art and MADI Art in Dallas. You can find her painting in person to live music at Lola’s Saloon most Monday nights. Recently she sat down with Fort Worth Weekly to discuss her art and inspirations.
Weekly: What made you want to start painting?
Ayala: I just decided to start doing it one day. I mean, I knew I always wanted to. I’ve always been an artist, just not a painter.
Weekly: Where does your inspiration come from?
Ayala: Symmetry is very prevalent in the majority of my pieces. It’s inspired by the symmetry of one’s inner reality and the outer reality. They directly affect and reflect each other 100 percent. For me, it’s a natural manifestation to create symmetrical pieces and a good reminder to watch the impact of my thoughts.
Weekly: What do you hope to accomplish through your art?
Ayala: One day I want to be so good that it makes people think about things that they don’t usually think about because they’re always so asleep. I just want people to think, not the way they usually think when they look at art. I want them to be reminded of things that they forgot they even knew. Whenever you take psychedelics, that’s what happens a lot. You come back to this place where you know you’ve been before a thousand times, and you know you’ll return there after you die, a thousand times. A lot of the artwork I see from my heroes, I can tell that that’s a place they’ve been before.
Weekly: Who are your heroes?
Ayala: Mostly the big-time visionary artists like Alex Grey, Allyson Grey, or Amanda Sage.
Weekly: You also make block prints too, right? How does that work?
Ayala: It’s basically just like making a big stamp. You get either linoleum or this rubbery substance, and you carve into it. Everything you carve is going to become negative space when you roll ink over it. And then you put a piece of paper down and stamp it.
Weekly: Do you have a routine or ritual that you follow when you sit down to create?
Ayala: I used to. I used to be very bad about that. I couldn’t paint or draw if my room wasn’t clean or there was any laundry to be done or any clutter. … But I guess that was just an excuse not to do it. I mean, I love it, but it’s a very scary thing to do sometimes because you never know how it’s going to turn out or how it’s going to be received. But now there’s less of that fear, and so it’s just usually jumping into it. Live painting has helped with that a lot. You’re thrown into sometimes very, very, weird environments, and you just have to do it.
Weekly: What’s the difference between painting in a live environment and painting privately?
Ayala: Interacting with people that can change your life. I always meet people that are very, very memorable. At home when I paint, I can take my time. I can use a lot more tools at home.
Weekly: Does the interaction with people affect how your artwork turns out?
Ayala: Sometimes. If I’m really annoyed, I start to not want to paint. It kind of pulls me back out of the painting. I won’t be in it as much. At home I’m more likely to take more risks. I’m less likely to try new things live, even though I often do, but it’s not always my number-one thing to do.
Weekly: Is there a benefit to painting live?
Ayala: Yeah, you meet a lot of new people. I’ve sold a lot of art that way. I’ve met a lot of different artists that I love. I’ve met a lot of different people that just stay there forever. It’s very synchronistic whenever you paint at certain events, like festivals. You definitely meet people that you’re supposed to meet.
Weekly: Do you listen to music when you paint?
Ayala: I listen to music when I do everything.
Weekly: What musical artists inspire you the most?
Ayala: Maynard James Keenan probably the most. [His band] Tool is probably the reason I ever started drawing, why I ever took psychedelics, why I ever looked into anything that concerned life being outside of what I was taught it was. I’ve been listening to Tool since I was very, very young. [Keenan] is also the reason why I got into visionary art. He’s the reason why I found most of the modern philosophers that I cling to. Other than that, you know, just the usual: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Biggie.