Six questions for
Stefanie Salzmann

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Stefanie Salzmann.

Artist Stefanie Salzmann
Lives in Belgium and Switzerland

How do you describe your own art practice?

My practice starts with raw materials, such as dye plants, the wool of my parent’s sheep, and the histories of these materials. I accompany the tactile materiality of the sheep’s fibers while transforming them into wall-based works, sculptures, and installations. An essential process in this transformation is often felting, one of the oldest ways to create textiles, which requires bodily strength to entangle loose fibers into a steady felt.  As part of my practice, I grow my own dye plants. I like to share my rituals and insights not only through exhibitions but also in workshops.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

I investigate how my textiles interact and change the aura of built environments and outside spaces, their use as shelter, and how they relate to agriculture, the human body, and architecture. Textiles depend on a body – a wall, structure, or human body – to hold themselves up. I am interested in this interdependence.

What was your first experience with art?

There was this summer, when I worked in a restaurant on a mountain pass as a teenager. An art in public space exhibition happened to be in that area. The artists came to drink hot chocolate during the build-up and were probably the only guests. I listened to them talking about art and wanted to know more about this world.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

The natural materials I use have their own temporalities and life cycles, and I want to communicate this aliveness in my textiles. I produce vivid colors from plants and insects and play with contrast to enhance these colors. I often have rough ideas for the shapes or motives in my artworks, but the conversation with the dyed wool opens up a whole new world, and I try to stay open to the unknown while making; let my body react to what the material offers.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I need good light, access to water, and a community of other artists around. Ideally, I would have a garden nearby to grow my plants and work outside.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Friends recently took me to Le Palais idéal du Facteur Cheval in the south of Lyon, and I was surprised by this architectural work of art. The palace was built over a period of 30 years by postman and self-thought artist Ferdinand Cheval and completed in 1912. He drew inspiration from stones, which he found in nature, but also from images on postcards and magazines he distributed as a postman. The reliefs on the façade are a mixture of myths, temples, depictions of nature, and much more.

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