First featured on our website in 2018, Sarahlaine Calava is still hard at work on big projects – both acrylic and digital. The self-taught artist from Raleigh, North Carolina was recently commissioned by FILA to create another mural that she can add to her portfolio. Calva uses art to promote sustainability and diversity. “I would like to change the current female role in modern art and be an inspiration for every person of any background to create more art for the many blank canvases of the world,” Calva says. Read our interview below.
We last interviewed you in 2018 and you said that you wanted to keep improving your work and move toward being able to make art your full-time career. How have you made strides toward these goals?
It’s insane how time flies really. I believe when y’all interviewed me in 2018 I had maybe 1 or close to none murals completed, in the meantime I’ve been trying to figure out how I could contribute my art to different communities and getting into public art. Since then I’ve created 12+ murals including one being a collaboration with FILA and Grant Hill which I was super thrilled about. Each opportunity was like a domino effect for me and snowballed into opportunity after opportunity and although I’m not happy with where I want to be yet I could definitely see myself achieving my goals. Art is not my full-time career yet but is what I’m profiting the most from. I feel like it’s safe and smart to just keep a part-time job on the side for times of uncertainty and slow days and I feel like it’s better for my mental health as well to have some sort of stable income so that way I’m not creating art solely for the purpose of getting money. It also helps with buying art supplies to help me create art. I was supposed to have my first ever solo exhibition in May and another huge mural and other events but this pandemic set them all back.
Can you share a recent piece you’ve made and explain a story behind it?
The recent piece I’ve made was titled “The Mind Reels” and it’s a 16×20 acrylic canvas piece. It basically entails the stir of unbalanced emotions I’ve been feeling lately, especially being trapped indoors stuck with thoughts of uncertainty about my future and others as well. It’s been a weird emotional ride for me but art has been keeping me sane.
I saw that this time last year you worked on a project with FILA – can you tell me how you got involved with that and what the experience was like?
It was kinda crazy! Grant Hill had been looking for an artist to collaborate with FILA for a basketball court project. He was based in Durham, NC and most of my murals are predominant there, so that’s how the team found out about me. They emailed me and we met up. I was super stoked because this was a huge opportunity, but it was lowkey stressful because of the strict deadlines and inclement weather. It was super hot, rained a lot some days, and there was lots of pollen, not to mention I was only given THREE days to complete the court mural so i had to get a lil creative with techniques to get closer to completion. I was extremely thankful to have some friends help me out. In the end, it was so worth it and resulted in a beautiful masterpiece that I’m truly proud of.
I know you also do digital work – do you prefer one style over the other? What different approaches do you take for your different medium?
I don’t really have a preference because I’ve very experimental when it comes to using different mediums, so it really just depends what mood I’m in. Of course digital is more easier and compatible into turning into prints, different things etc. Using actual paint feels more genuine, but I feel like using digital still doesn’t take the validity away from the artwork. In the end, it’s still a creation and could even take the same amount of time and effort to complete as an acrylic piece. What I like about digital is that it’s more accessible. I use my iPad, so I could really draw anywhere if I wanted to – but I enjoy both forms of creating equally. I love getting messy with paint; getting it all over my clothes, painting on huge walls and getting on uncomfortably high ladders/lifts. It gives me a sense of liberation and accomplishment and I definitely feel more appreciative when I finish a piece.
What do you hope to accomplish in the span of your art career?
I hope to eventually make it into multiple galleries and make tons of murals so that I could make my mark all over the world to brighten up the public a lil bit. Getting into Art Basel is one of my top goals and just collaborating with brands would be cool too.