For San Francisco based artist Erika Sanada, animals have long represented a sort of escapism from reality. Featured here on our blog and in Hi-Fructose Vol. 31, her creepy-cute sculptural incarnations of “zombified” baby creatures are analogies to her own demons. Over the years, we’ve seen her sculptures evolve into more dynamic pieces of art; playful, narrative scenes colored in a spectrum of somber hues. She explores a bolder, darker palette and decoration in her upcoming solo, “Cope.”
Opening on May 6th at Stranger Factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sanada’s show is a continuation of the artist’s “Odd Things”, dealing with themes of innocence and birth to the contemplation of death: “My work reflects the weird and the creepy; I am fascinated with the dark side. “Odd Things” are my current body of work and I use ceramic for making bizarre creatures. They have extra body parts such as multiple arms, legs, teeth and ears. These are how I express my sensitive mind. There are two reasons I create misshapen and abnormal work. One is my bitter childhood and the second is my constant anxieties,” she says.
Sanada’s work in “Cope” finds the artist’s rarely-seen sketch and drawing work utilized in some of her sculpture’s designs. She illustrates onto one piece a scene of two black birds or crows, a commonly used symbol for death, catching a moth, a symbol for weakness. Other works feature her puppy characters, strikingly colored in dark combinations of black and crimson, in scenes where they “cope” with various predicaments, a reference to Sanada’s coping with her own anxieties.
“I have had an anxious personality since I was a child. I worry about everything, even tiny things. Anxiety drags my mind to the dark side, which is more powerful and intense than my bright side. Sometimes I can’t move forward because I am emotionally paralyzed. I decided to go face-to-face with my anxieties by creating irregular and eerie creatures representing my dark side. As a result, these creatures show my twisted mind as I try to overcome anxiety through my creation.”