Grits: Foad Satterfield

It is often true what people say when they use the expression, "It's all in the name".  With a name like Foad Satterfield, impact is second nature.  Today's featured artist and curator, Foad Satterfield is without a doubt a talent with presence.  I met Mr. Satterfield several months ago at an engagement party.  He is one of those people that walks in a room with an air of astuteness and confidence, and yet, somehow maintains a sense of benevolence.  As a professor of Fine Arts at Dominican University, father, and husband, he has spent a lifetime developing and sharpening these qualities.

I recently visited Mr. Satterfield at his "Heart of the Matter" exhibition at the Domincan University Alemany Library Gallery.  Satterfield was the lead curator at the gallery for over 30 years.  The exhibition showcased an ongoing body of work spanning  a period of three years.  It's focus...nature.  My first impression of Mr. Satterfield's work was that it echoed the landscape surrounding the university campus.  It was as if I stepped into the gallery space and immediately stepped out into the open air.  I could instantly feel nature's pulse in his paintings.  In discussing his work, Satterfield noted that his use of white space and layering allows viewers to experience the process of his work.  In addition to layering, Satterfield also uses found objects such as paint stirring sticks to build dimension and texture and draw awareness to the importance of reuse and recycling.  

Probably what I enjoy most about Mr. Satterfield is that he is able to interpret nature as a collective and yet somehow capture its distinct moments.  Whether depicted as scattered leaves or a trickling stream, Satterfield's work is a reminder that we are an amalgamation of the environment in which we live.  When I asked Mr. Satterfield what he hopes to inspire in people who see his work, his response was that he aims to create art that moves people to be reflective.   And with that, I give you  Mr. Foad Satterfield.    Breathe in and enjoy!  

Source: Art is Luv and Foad Satterfield

Art Is Luv:  Where did you spend your childhood and in what ways has it influenced your work as an artist and curator?

Satterfield: I grew up in Orange, Texas and Lake Charles, LA; both locales were situated on and near large bodies of water. The Sabine River, Lake Charles, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico were for me constant reminders  that water sustains and is indeed the origin of life. 

As a kid and young person, my imagination and observations were always informed and influenced by this environment.   However, at these times in my life I had no idea what an artist or a curator was.  All I knew way deep inside, was that there was some powerful influences all around me!

Art Is Luv: When did you move to the Bay Area?

Satterfield: I came to the Bay Area in 1971 after I completed graduate school.  In 1973 I begin working part time at the Berkeley Art Center. I was there for 7 years until Proposition 13 came along and realigned politics in the state of CA to this very day.   It was there that I got to see, work with, and learn how to design and install fine art exhibitions. At that time there was a strong influence from artists at UC Berkeley. 

As a young, developing painter I got to see what I liked and what makes work strong as opposed to what makes work clever and safely within the trend. The Bay Area has always been a place for experimentation with a particular edge about it.

Art Is Luv: In what ways, since your move to California, has the Bay Area art scene experienced the greatest shifts, good and not so good?

Satterfield: In terms of stylistic shifts, this has always occurred and will continue as makers and artists look for novel ways to recombine cultural, artistic and material elements in ways that stimulate and create continuing conversations for future creations. 

In my opinion, I find that the intervention of technical elements along with popular culture and post modern sensibilities have combined for a chaotic blending forming a visual language that I find rather thin and banal. Say that, I also have seen great examples of young makers who have strong fundamental skills who have created powerful narratives for this time and I believe will continue into the next period of our cultural evolution.

Art Is Luv:  As a curator and artist, you possess both the artistic flare and keen sensibility for art arrangement and overall project management.  What exchange of perspective and talent is important between artists and curators to ensure mutual appreciation and well executed shows?

Satterfield: My becoming a curator was a long process even though I had the title of curator when I first took over the San Marco Gallery at then Dominican College I was only someone hanging artists' work. 

At the Berkeley Art Center, Director, Carl Worth and Curator, Richard Sargent gave me plenty of latitude to develop my skills as a gallery prepartor.  I realized early that I was especially drawn to detail and finishing aspects of exhibit design within the installation process. Later, I began to take on lighting as a major interest as I continued to develop my skills and understand the hanging and conceptualizing an exhibition. The work, the space the tempo the ambience has to all come together so the expression can be free and unencumbered by the installation. 

After I learned this I became a curator.

Art Is Luv: What themes inspire you when creating your own pieces?  Who are some of your favorite visual and performing artists, past and present?

Satterfield: I especially like soft and hard forms in combination. When I look and at some of my African pieces in my collection I am awestruck at the manner in which curves and angles find relationships and affinities that go beyond the expected, producing forms that are powerful and sensitive. 

In my work I look for similar metaphors when I am studying and working from and in nature. I context this by creating a personal narrative of forms and elements in my compositions that have meaning for me.

There are so many great artists and makers who have influenced me.  Charles Mingus, Mozart, Joan Mitchell, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Leontine Price, Oliver Jackson, Charlie Parker, T. Monk, Judith Jamison and I am afraid that it goes on and on….

Art is Luv: Your work has been admired and collected by a broad spectrum of individuals with varying tastes.  Why do you think people with vastly different backgrounds relate so well to your work?

Satterfield:  I think my work resonates with people of different perspectives and backgrounds because there is something about our relationship with “nature” that is meaningful, visceral and deep within us.

Art is Luv: Mr. Satterfield, you have had an amazing career as an artist and educator and shown your work around the country and internationally.  If I found your buried time capsule, where would it be located and what would I find?

Satterfield: This is the best of all the questions and this is the one I thought about while in Cozumel in the water with the fish. 

If there were a capsule buried with a chronology of who was Foad and what he aspired to do while here on earth; I would like for it to be found anywhere along the equator possibly in the Levant or possibly in what is now Southeast Asia and there within this capsule would be found a simple marking on a stone that would indicate that Foad worked within Life in order to know Life and in doing so made many mistakes towards his slow, progressive and inevitable spiritual evolution. 

Art Is Luv: What's next and where can we see more of your work?

Satterfield: Will have to tell you after my next meditation!

Art is Luv: Finally, what's for breakfast?

Satterfield: Grapefruit, apple, nuts, banana, and nutritional yeast blended in as a smoothie!