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Trippen Community Series: Marigold Santos

Trippen Community Series: Marigold Santos

Calgary-based artist, Marigold Santos emigrated from the Philippines with her family in 1988. Her multidisciplinary practice examines diasporic lived experience and storytelling, and extends into painting, sculpture, and tattoo. Marigold’s work explores self-hood and identity that embraces multiplicity, hybridity, and fragmentation, while considering the fractured yet empowering relationships to heritage.  

 

Marigold and her partner Yarko, a talented designer and fabricator, recently welcomed their son Mazzy to the family. With a new perspective, Marigold’s work has evolved and been inspired through the journey of parenthood.   

We recently had the chance to join Marigold through a day-in-the-life. Starting at their home, then visiting her studio in downtown Calgary’s historic Grain Exchange building and followed by a stop at Yarko’s workshop in Ogden. Along the way, we asked her more about her practice and the joys of being a new mom.  

Photography by: Jared Sych — @waltereneuman 

Videography by: Sean Edwards — @seanedwards

What are some of the themes or concepts that inform your practice? 

I am interested in exploring notions of selfhood, in particular, the ways in which they are multiple, fragmented, ever-evolving, and as they are informed by our experiences. In my case, through a diasporic lens. Looking closely at autobiographical experiences that have contributed to community-building and identity-forming in oneself, critically assessing heritage and problematic histories, reflecting on sensorial memories that tether one to their ancestry and notions of home, and the complex layers of lived experience of a person of color, a mother, and a full-time working artist. 

18 months ago I gave birth to our son Mazzy, and my experience of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood/parenthood, has added many more layers to my work. It is sort of inevitable that those experiences would become integrated in my work, as so much of it speaks of embracing multiple selfhoods and celebrating vulnerabilities as strengths, and that is so key when raising a child. It is so much day-to-day learning and adapting, and growing, that it changes you indescribably. 

How would you describe your artwork? 

I have an interdisciplinary practice that involves drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, printmaking, sound and film works, as well as in recent years, tattooing. The images in my work are cross-referential, in that they continuously appear in various forms and iterations in the works I have created over the years, and have become part of a visual vocabulary I draw upon, and in many ways a kind of invented otherworldly mythology. Though there is a underlying foundation of research and experience behind each piece, the platform in which I present them are always abstractions from where they stem from, and so the images themselves have a feeling of ambiguity, weirdness, and familiarity all intersecting.

Where did your interest in creating art come from? 

I think I have always been a creatively minded person and knew at a young age that I liked to draw and make things, but also to use my imagination. When I was really young, and living in the Philippines, my tita (aunt) would tell us many folklore stories, and I always gravitated to the ones that were scary and macabre, and most of them are! Some of those creatures I was told as a child, my memories of them, and how I imagined them, has made their way to the work I make now, and have become foundational points of entry into my work. 

What does the word "home" mean to you? 

Home is an interesting concept, and like our identities and self-hoods, is allowed to morph and change, and evolve, depending on our relationship to it. I know my homeland is where I was born, the Philippines, but I don’t consider it my home necessarily, nor do I romanticize it in my work. When I refer to my homeland, as a person in diaspora, I am considering all the angles and all the layers of what that means, and how I am in a state of finding belonging and peace, knowing that all my experiences are fragmented, and will continue to be. In many ways, putting pieces together, gathering objects around you (real or imagined) surrounding yourself with folks you love, while you consider where you are, who is around you, and your responsibility to yourself to others, and where you are, is how you make home. And that can happen anywhere. 

What does the word "home" mean to you? 

Home is an interesting concept, and like our identities and self-hoods, is allowed to morph and change, and evolve, depending on our relationship to it. I know my homeland is where I was born, the Philippines, but I don’t consider it my home necessarily, nor do I romanticize it in my work. When I refer to my homeland, as a person in diaspora, I am considering all the angles and all the layers of what that means, and how I am in a state of finding belonging and peace, knowing that all my experiences are fragmented, and will continue to be. In many ways, putting pieces together, gathering objects around you (real or imagined) surrounding yourself with folks you love, while you consider where you are, who is around you, and your responsibility to yourself to others, and where you are, is how you make home. And that can happen anywhere. 

Can you tell us a bit about you and your husband Yarko's creative collaboration? 

Along with being my best friend and father to Mazzy, Yarko is an incredibly creative and skillful designer, fabricator, and collaborator, and his woodshop YRK YPK Inc. is located in the heart of Ogden. Previously, Yarko has worked with me on custom framing for all my paintings, and all the logistical packing, crating, shipping complicated works to various cities and galleries. For my next exhibition, I am working with Yarko and Khalid Omokanye together as they fabricate a sculpture that I have created. It involves turning wood on a lathe to create organic forms that reflect sounds and my mother tongue Tagalog. Working together with Yarko has been so helpful for my art practice. In the past I have really kept my process close to my heart and was hesitant to allow others to contribute to it, but having this partnership with Yarko has really created more growth in my work overall, and I am really appreciative of our work ethic together. 

What is the most challenging part about putting an art collection together? 

Getting it all done, on time!  

What is your favourite part about living in Calgary? 

The closeness to the mountains, and the rivers (there are two that run through the city!) is great.  

What are you most looking forward to this summer? 

Now that the weather is warmer, we have started to plug away at our backyard, which means a tiny bit of gardening (and I mean tiny) and beginning our plans to convert the garage into a new studio for me. I am looking forward to spending more time outside, some pool time with Mazzy, and some hang time with friends in Toronto and Montreal.

What do you love about your Trippen's (or do you have a favourite pair?) 

I love how Trippen’s are always constructed so well, with the most beautiful leather and comfortable soles. They have masterful silhouettes, and are so wearable. When you see a Trippen shoe, you can immediately recognize it as a Trippen. They are iconic! 

Do you have any upcoming projects you are excited about? 

I have a solo show opening at Patel Brown in Toronto this summer, June 22 2023 to be exact. I am really excited to showcase my new pieces there, and see all the Toronto folks. I also have exhibitions coming up next year in Vancouver and Calgary so stay tuned.


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