By Judith Kahn
The mixed media of Salvadoran artist Dilcia Giron begins “in the moment,” inspired by “observations of our daily life.” Unwilling to limit herself to one signature art form, she constantly explores new patterns, shapes and techniques through her printmaking, painting, photography, collage, digital illustration, and performance as well as collaboration with other artists in diverse media.
All of her collages are fabricated in the traditional method, cutting and pasting images from fashion and editorial magazines. This form is her favorite because it unleashes Giron’s creativity. She embarks with the intention of exploring new realities by providing a glimpse into the subconscious.
“I want to evoke a psychedelic experience, times of spiritual awakenings in which there was love and only love, without border, inhibitions, or conditions,” she said.
Giron feels strongly that people leave art, but art never leaves them. In her day-to-day, Giron brings her personal sketchbook to her desk at the insurance company where she works, taking the opportunity to draw whenever she has a moment. Since beginning this practice, she said she has become more productive at work and is happier and more fulfilled. She now looks at her work environment as “a source of daily inspiration,” which encourages her to remain in the present moment.
“A regular job and art are related and there is duality between what I do in front of my computer and what I create in my sketchbook,” she said.
After work, she still has energy to paint, to create some collages, and use some of the photos of buildings and architectural structures from her work during the day.
When there is less time to devote to painting and photography she begins to suffer from depression. Art is a language that allows Giron to escape from the real world, and she describes it as “purity of expression.” It allows her to go wherever she wants. She is gratified when people compliment her on it, but she is also interested in how others view her art, learning from their insights.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Giron has been surrounded by art since childhood but describes her homeland as a place “oversaturated with stimulation.” Her childhood was a time of political unrest and civil war, and artists and intellectuals were in danger and often persecuted. In El Salvador, her perception of reality was constantly changing.
Adding to the turmoil of the time, while there, she could not study fine arts, only graphic design. As her passion for art grew, she felt pulled to leave the country. An artist friend of her father, exiled from El Salvador many years earlier, was allowed to return in the late 1990s. That is when he met Giron. He advised her that San Francisco would provide her with greater opportunities to pursue her artistic passion, and in December 1996, at age 23, she moved here.
The Richmond District resident took as many art classes at City College of San Francisco as she could: painting, sketching, and acting classes. But it was a course on the history of modern art that profoundly affected her, changing her view of what art is and who she was as an artist.
In this class, she learned about “what happened after Picasso.” Seeing the work of Joan Miró, Jackson Pollock, David Hockney, and other modern artists freed her to be more experimental, and she began to post her art online. Over time, people began to recognize her art and it was selected to post in jury galleries. This was her entrance to gallery exhibits.
Being an artist in San Francisco is not without its challenges, though, and foremost, she said, is that her studio is too small. Giron said she needs room for more and bigger canvasses. Coming from El Salvador and not knowing the language or American culture made it difficult to break into the art scene here. To gain that entry, she feels that she has had to work harder than natives to get where she is now and continues to have to prove herself, not only in the art world, but even in her insurance job.
Giron has many interests, including hiking and visiting the fine art museums in cities of Europe. Her passion for reading led her to form a book club called “mind-benders,” which was mentioned in a New York Times article on book clubs called “Really?-You’re-not-in-a-book-club?” The idea for the club emerged from her desire to read the classics that she could not read in El Salvador, so the members focus on important and classic literature.
In San Francisco, Giron loves living near the ocean and appreciates the balance between city living and the ease of accessing places like Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais. She is disappointed by the gentrification and homelessness happening in the City, and how City College now offers fewer evening and weekend classes.
Giron looks forward to continuing to make her art and exploring where it will take her.
To learn more about her and to see examples, visit http://www.dilciagiron.com.
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