We had the good fortune of connecting with Eva Struble and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eva, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I like to set myself up to encounter the unexpected. I suppose you could call this risk-taking. I see this trait in the way I make work in the studio- material experiments that create obstacles I have to work around creatively- but also in my larger life choices. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling, living, studying and teaching abroad, from Morocco to France to Brazil to Senegal, to name a few, and I feel very lucky to have been able to do so. The challenge of being abroad and having to navigate a new language, idea of space, series of cultural expectations, etc, doesn’t allow you to be passive. I think I’m always fighting feelings of repetition and passivity in my life so I seek a little friction and surprise. Researching some of my work- a series of pieces about Superfund (environmentally degraded) sites in Baltimore for example- put me on edge in an energizing way- I put my body in uncomfortable situations visiting these places. But I could also retreat to the studio to process in comfort. This is my version of what Björk described in Hyperballad about visiting her cliff before returning home (I’m about to be 40, in case my reference didn’t give me away).
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
All of my work stems from painting and has so far generally related to various histories of landscapes and places where I’ve lived. Right now I’m working on a handful of proposals for larger works- a large outdoor mural in San Diego and a large interior installation/mural in the Bay Area. Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky to create some larger public works, including a mural at SAN Airport, a mural at the New Children’s Museum and recently a large interior painting for the San Diego County Operations Center. This work has been mirrored by mural projects with students at SDSU that we’ve made on campus recently, which I love working on with students- they are truly bonding experiences. I never actually meant to create murals, but I’m learning a lot in this realm right now and I’m interested in exploring public works more. Now that I’m comfortable on a 60’ wall scaffold, can I integrate 3D materials or play more with light and shadow as media? I have a lot of ideas to explore.
On the flipside, in the studio, my work has gotten more introspective with the pandemic, and I’ve been exploring some ideas around body and representation. This work is too new to really understand or explain well, but if previously my work dealt with my body-in-place (and that place’s various histories), I’m looking more at sensations of my body-in-itself right now, as that relates to memory, relationships, emotion, etc. I’m sure landscape will continue to be in play in this work on some level too. Professionally, I’m looking forward to getting to travel again- I have a residency on Vancouver Island lined up this summer with my family, which I hope we can attend. The challenge of finding residencies that accommodate a family with a 3-year-old is a real one, but we’re trying our best. As an educator, I’m also looking forward to a class I’m teaching based around 12 different artist talks through the semester (publicly available online, with some great artists lined up like Leonard Suryajaya and Tala Madani) and continuing to develop a class I teach that combines hiking, ethnobotany and drawing. If I can spend class time drawing in Mission Trails with students, I’m having a good day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I appreciate this time to fantasize, and will imagine a decent budget to spend, and the luxury of a babysitter for my son. We would go paragliding in La Jolla, and then head down to snorkel with the leopard sharks (let’s say it’s September). The next day we’d grab some bánh mì down the street on El Cajon, and head out to take a hike out in Mount Laguna. We’ll sweat it out back in town with evening hot yoga (Indie in OB is my standby) and have a fire in the backyard. Next we’d check out the new Museum of Contemporary Art campus in La Jolla- I’m looking forward to see what’s up there first as they re-open. Heading down to Tijuana next, we’ll continue the art viewing at the CECUT, grab some tacos, and dance out back at the Mezcalera until they turn the lights on (hopefully the babysitter can sleep over). I’d round it out with another beach day for everyone who wants to join, pick up a box of deliciousness at Wayfarer in Bird Rock, maybe a few bottles of wine (shh…), and do a picnic at Black’s (don’t forget the soccer ball for Felix and surfboard for my husband). Lastly, we can recover from all that relaxation by sitting in hot water and getting scrubbed up in Kearny Mesa (Aqua day spa) and we’ll grab some Korean food in the neighborhood. Ha! Thanks for helping me plan my post-vaccine staycation.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband Scott Polach, who is also an artist, deserves credit here. I met him ten years ago, doing an artists’ residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, where we both had studios in a giant old wooden military barracks building enveloped in eucalyptus fog and surrounded by wild turkeys. Scott balances mind and body well- he can spend a day creating and editing beautiful video work (he works for San Francisco-based Pop-Up Magazine (www.popupmagazine.com), and would normally be producing live shows, but this year is obviously special) but then he will spend the weekend skillfully surfing, hiking and gardening. When I moved from New York, out west, he helped me remember how much I love being outside, and because he actually reads maps when entering the wilderness, he is to thank for my survival on week-long trips in Anza Borrego or Olympic National Park. His work, based in photography, which is up at the San Diego Airport now (Terminal 1, gate 28 East) also deals with landscape and our cultural impositions that form our ideas of it. Scott is also a great dad who made it possible to bring a toddler around Europe over the past few summers, with his patience and problem-solving (I guess going surfing in Lofoten, in the Arctic Circle, made it worth it!)
Instagram: Eva Struble
Scott Polach, Pablo Mason, Karen Morrison