We had the good fortune of connecting with Sami Peterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sami, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
My constant affirmation is, “Inputs, Outputs.” It’s short for, “What outputs will these inputs make?” which is actually a lyric from my brother’s (now retired) punk band, Black Out Kids. While the inputs and outputs of his song are probably beers and cigarettes, and vomit and hangovers, respectively, I’ve taken the whole thing to heart in my own way. Whenever I’m struggling to create, I think about the Inputs that I’m consuming. Holding this as my affirmation makes me more mindful of wasting time online, as well as creating moments to walk in nature, look at fine art, and read nourishing books. It is my hope that my Outputs — my artworks, actions, and words — can become the Inputs that then nourish others.
So, tell us about your art. What do you want the world to know about your story?
A major overall theme of Tangled Paper is the compression of time into space. It is meant to be enjoyed over the course of day and night as the light casts changing shadows. It is meant to be something you cannot absorb all at once, but rather a place to return and discover new facets and caves of color and meaning. Tangled Paper is also often a metaphor for the mind’s interior. On what landscape do we imagine our thoughts and emotions? I see them twisted in undulating fields of color and texture. Staring at Tangled Paper is meditative and can help you chase down your own subconscious in its folds. There’s nothing easy about trying to smash so much meaning into the limited time and space we have on this Earth. To even attempt to bring the images inside of me out into the world means abandoning “normal” and accepting phases of discomfort, living with an uncertain future, and embracing vulnerability. I feel the deepest sense of duty to make life easier, or more beautiful, or less lonely for others and the best tool I have found is my creativity. I have so much compassion for people who are just trying to manage their day-to-day, following the scraps of direction given by elders or authority or peers, slowly realizing that there are fewer answers than questions in this life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have lived in San Diego my whole life and it continues to surprise me. I’d have to take my friend to Fiesta Island Dog Park. It’s bare and expansive in a way that devastates the heart, and makes you feel like you’re on an expedition, with interludes of joyous dog games. I would also take them on a tour of suspension bridges, including Spruce Street Suspension bridge. I’d feed them from my garden – arugula, tomatoes, potatoes, fresh herbs, and eggs from our backyard hens.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s hard to pick just one person who deserves my shoutout. I am surrounded by a loving, vibrant community both in my neighborhood and across long distances. This one can go out to Seibot, a San Francisco based artist and member of my queer family. They inspire me, not only by filling me with huge emotions over the years that have literally become the subject matter of my Tangled Paper artworks, but also by navigating a blazing path through love, the art world, and gender. My little ribs can barely contain the pride I feel in them for co-founding Moth Belly, an upcoming gallery, DIY community space, and all-encompassing creative headquarters. Check them out at Mothbelly.org or on Instagram @mothbellygallery.