Interview with artist, Rafael Francisco Salas

This month we had art professor and artist, Rafael Francisco Salas visit North High to share his art, influences, and process with our students. 

Rafael Francisco Salas, Untitled Portrait (Houses), oil on canvas, 22 x 42 inches, 2010

Rafael Francisco Salas, Untitled Portrait (Houses), oil on canvas, 22 x 42 inches, 2010

North High Art Department: What/who is your biggest inspiration?

Rafael Francisco Salas: I mentioned a few influential artists – Isa Genzken, Cy Twombly,  and Byzantine artwork

In addition, old country music as it relates the landscape, and then of course the landscape of rural Wisconsin itself.

NHAD: What is your favorite medium to work with?

RFS: Oil paint and charcoal

NHAD: When did you start painting?

RFS: I always was interested in making art, but didn’t begin oil painting until I was about 23 years old.

NHAD: At what age did you start being an artist?

RFS: Pretty much my whole life.

NHAD: Why did you choose to do abstract painting?

RFS: Great question. Abstract art (to me) is able to communicate beyond language. If a painting has a human figure, a viewer responds with the knowledge that the painting has a person in it. But abstraction requires a different reading, that is more personal and emotional. It comes from the gut.

NHAD: How long does it take to finish a painting?

RFS: Sometimes they move along quite quickly, like two or three weeks. Other times a couple of months.

NHAD: Do you enjoy changing your media & materials?

RFS: It’s exciting and very challenging to work with new materials. Sometimes it’s a disaster!

NHAD: Is all of your work based on your experiences?

RFS: Yes, most of it is pretty autobiographical. It’s what I know.

NHAD: What made you want to go into art/study art?

RFS: I always enjoyed it and was inspired to make art. Plus I was never good at anything else!

Artist Statement: 

My current artistic project begins by describing the landscape and its moods that I have observed in Wisconsin.  They include natural occurrences as well as man-made events and architecture which complement and conflict. Our creations and habits rub up against what is native or wild. Those interactions describe our new selves.

The use of non-representational and still life elements in my artwork creates a dichotomy between figure and ground, between the perceived and the felt. Like the nature of the landscapes I observe, the artwork aspires toward a certain nobility, but often illuminates a poignant contrast to that aspiration.

Country music is the appropriate soundtrack.

About The Artist Lecture Series

The Artist Lecture Series is an in-school program at Sheboygan North High School that invites local and regional visual artists to share their journey as artists with the beginning, intermediate, and advanced art classes. Visiting artists present and expose art students to such as but not limited to: a digital portfolio, actual artworks, talk about about careers, and the opportunity to interact with the artists. This program is organized by the Sheboygan North High Art Department. 

North High Art Department hosts the 1st Annual WAEA Art Teacher Idea Exchange

On January 14, 2012, North High School Art Department hosted its 1st Annual Art Teacher Idea Exchange hosted by the Wisconsin Art Education Association and local WAEA members, Carol Rokicki of North/South High School and Brian Sommersberger of Random Lake Elementary School worked together along with Lee Amborn of Black River Falls Middle School to develop an open invitation to K-12 art educators in the North East Region, which included local colleges and private schools. Lee Amborn has been doing the Annual Art Teacher’s Idea Exchange in his district for the last 28 years.

Carol and Brian thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for art teachers to get together and exchange ideas/lesson plans and instructional thoughts. Those who participated were told to bring numerous copies of one lesson plan plus visual samples. Teachers were also asked to bring one “teacher tip” to share. Participants were excited about having the opportunity to see different ideas and approaches to art instruction. About 10 art educators attended the 1st Annual Art Teacher’s Idea Exchange from various grade levels and districts. The 2nd Annual Art Teacher Annual Idea Exchange is already being planned for next year.

Brian Sommersberger is currently serving as WAEA’s North East Regional Vice-President. Carol Rokicki is currently serving as WAEA’s Secondary Representative.

Click here to view video and see photos of this event.