Artist Interview: Samuel Michael Casebolt
We sat down with Oakland mixed media Artist & Director, Samuel Michael Casebolt and asked him about his process behind the 'The Desert Does Not Care About You,' the series we currently have in our main gallery.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I can't help but be inspired by everything around me. The "natural" world is especially inspiring for me.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
For painting, I usually have a mostly complete image in my head for months or even years, slowly adjusting details as I find the time to actually paint it. When I actually start the piece, the decision making process is pretty fast. I like to leave some evidence of the "artist's hand" and usually accept the first marks I make rather than erase and refine every line.
The Desert Does Not Care About You is a newer collection of works that focuses on the vast, cold landscape of the desert. Your new feature length movie 'The Yucca Sisters' (FKA Hell’s Belles) is also set in the desert. Can you describe those parallels and what made you decide to do concept art for the film?
These paintings are about my relationship with cactus and my time spent in the desert, and loosely tie into concepts and imagery for the film. I've done several other pieces, not in the show, that work out philosophical and visual concepts related to The Yucca Sisters. I think it helps to make concept art because I think the purpose of visual art is to say things that you can't say any other way.
What is 'The Yucca Sisters' about?
It's a story of a cult in the desert, that has documented themselves in their quest to have absolute control of reality, and then disappeared. In a campy documentary style, I attempt to find the truth about the cult, sending a team of scientists to the desert to find evidence of their existence. In many ways the film is about itself, as it is a document of myself controlling the reality of the film.
Can you tell us about the challenges and rewards you've faced while making your latest film?
I could easily make another film about the making of The Yucca Sisters, from driving 10 hours through one of the biggest storms of the year to get to the desert shoot, happening on a raging party at another sight, to making all of my own props and faking jazz for the soundtrack. This film has only been made possible by my generous friends offering help in many ways and trusting me to use them as actors even though almost no one is trained as one.
Do you find it harder to be an artist in the Bay more than previous cities you've lived in?
I can't stop being an artist, but I don't show as as often as I used to in LA. Partly because I don't have the same network up here, but mostly because I've been focusing on producing films.