Interview with Priscilla S. Flores for ‘Where the Spirit Meets the Skin’ | Exhibition September 2 – September 23, 2023

Photo by Birdman

Thinkspace is excited to present the first solo show of Long Beach based painter Priscilla S. Flores Where the Spirit Meets the Skin.’ By drawing from memory and personal experiences with sensuality, Flores converges reality and fantasy of external and internal relationships she has with the world around her. The expression ‘the spirit meets the skin’ is borrowed from the song ‘Living Room’ by ambient band Grouper. Through various paintings and a few small graphite drawings, Flores allows the viewer to gaze into her world.

Our interview with Flores explores which piece was the most challenging for her and why, which skill she would choose to download in her brain and her creative influences and inspirations.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging? 

I really wanted to dive into the theme of time and memory. I think of certain experiences (relationships with people and or situations I’ve been in) that present a lot of change and emotion are what also construct our perception of the things around us. Narration is a big part of my work, even if I’m focusing more on the feeling than memory, it helps me understand myself, like being vulnerable, conscious of what my body and mind can hold. A painting I kept going back and forth was ‘Angel From the Coast’ because it was telling more of a feeling inspired from a memory. I didn’t want the viewer to only focus on just the impressionistic made up scene. I wanted to focus on the idea of a separation/divide, the symbol of the bird beaming through, highlighting the separation of the two figures. The background figure stands as unknown yet engaged while the frontal figure is staring off uninterested and unsatisfied. I also kept changing the landscape but overall I just really wanted a straight forward environment with big and bold colors. 

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

I have a full time job so my structure is constantly changing. For this show I worked at my job throughout the day and would do 3-4 hours of studio time afterwards. I mainly spread it out and paint only 2-3 times a week after work and then dedicate a whole weekend of studio time. There have been times where I’ve worked in the studio after work consecutively but I don’t do that often because I do not want to burn out. I took time off in the summer so my days were looser, I’d have my breakfast and head into the studio late mornings and work for 5-6 hours straight and that was mainly painting but also mapping out ideas, cleaning/organizing; all that fun stuff.  

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

Definitely listening to music! It has always served as a warm up for me before starting anything. I like tapping into my mood and vibing out to songs I’m in love with at the moment. I think of it as a soundtrack for the day and what I’m working on. I also like to go on walks, fresh air always clears my mind and gets me settled into work mode. 

What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part is definitely seeing the work coming together, theres a point where a painting just starts feeling right. My least favorite part is when it feels off, mid way into it can feel like you’re working on whole other thing. Thats when you have take a few steps and rework it. 

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you? 

I’m currently influenced by Larry Madrigal who paints himself and his family. He’s real for sharing his life in a very embracing and intimate way. It’s reassuring to know that we as artists can paint anything and everything. Another influence would have to be Kerry James Marshall, he’s the GOAT. Almost anyone I know painting right now is definitely influenced by him. Salman Toor, for his vulnerable and again intimate paintings, Nauldine Cluvie Pierre’s work creates these worlds of characters that symbolize emotions and identity. I have many more but they come to mind right away. Their compositions inspire me to have fun with the environments I want to create in my own work.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do / be an expert at?

Printmaking for sure. It was always something I wondered about because of the long process. I’m a painter and so my process can be all over the place sometimes so a skill like printmaking could definitely rewire my brain for the better. I’ve recently got acquainted with silk screen, thanks to a homie who helped me bring a drawing of mine to life on a t-shirt. He shared his process and knowledge on silk screening which I really appreciate. Shout out to Eduardo Muñoz! 

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

I hope they would experience a sense of closeness to it. The take away being that time passes but memories sit still. All our thoughts and emotions are valid. 

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work? 

Oh yes. I go out dancing or do karaoke with my friends. I like to be social so I like going out and just talking to people. I also like staying home too, a favorite thing of mine these days. 

If you could collaborate with any artists in any sort of medium (i.e. movies, music, painting) who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?

I would collaborate with my friend Abner who is a musician and has put out music as Mojave Airport. I could really see us starting a band with my other close friend Tania who’s DJ name is Tan Tan Club (a nod to Tom Tom Club). We like a lot of the same music so I could see us making music that ranges from electronic to shoe gaze. 

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?

You mean dream blunt rotation? haha just kidding. I would definitely invite André 3000, Jonathan Richman, Amy Winehouse, Jesus Christ and Joan Baez. Menu would probably be some shrimp tacos and ice cold mexican cokes. I wouldn’t even know an icebreaker question honestly! 

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

Oof there was so much. I definitely listened to a lot of Y La Bamba, The Drums, CCFC, Angel Olsen, Tony Molina, Smashing Pumpkins, just to name a few.