An ongoing series of Q&As with some of L.A.'s most fascinating contemporary artists. This week it’s photographer Sal Taylor Kydd, whose unconventional throwback processes and techniques result in platinum prints that are romantic and timeless as objects, and evocatively depict shared moments between humans and the natural world.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
SAL TAYLOR KYDD: I think I’ve always known I was an artist. My brothers were very good artists when we were young and so was my best friend at school, so I think I felt that was “their thing” for a long time. It took me a while to find the confidence and self-awareness to claim it for my own. My father collected cameras, though, and worked as a chemist; now I work in alternative processes of photography to make my platinum-palladium prints — so the seeds were definitely planted early.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work centers around my home and family in conversation with nature. The natural world makes me think of both fragility and resilience; it reminds me of time passing, which I’m always trying to stop with my camera. Recently I’ve been thinking about these themes of fragility and resilience in relation to myself as a woman, getting older, and what that means.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Nature plays such a big part in my work — perhaps I’d be a botanist in another life … either that or a chef or food writer. I love cooking.
Did you go to art school? Why/why not?
I didn’t go to art school until much later in life, just a few years ago. I don’t think I was ready when I was younger. I’m a big believer in the right things happening to you at the right time. My life experiences inform the content of my work, but also the skills I have learned along the way make me a better artist.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I do like to listen to music when I work. I have a playlist going right now of ’90s acoustic, which is a trip down memory lane. I also like Mumford & Sons, Angus & Julia Stone and Ray LaMontagne and Billy Bragg/Wilco. I generally like to keep it mellow in the studio.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My next show is coming right up! The show is titled Janus Rising and explores ideas around womanhood and identity. It opens Feb. 2 here in L.A., at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica.
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Gallery 169, 169 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica; opening reception Saturday, Feb. 2, 5-8 p.m.; on view through March 3.