by Jeffrey R. Sipe
Sandra de la Torre's photographs exude an inner spirituality. They describe a sometimes torturous journey, a joining of inner experience with the outside world. The artist draws us into a dialog not just with her work but with our own dichotomy, our own inner and outer reality.
De la Torre had a somewhat tumultuous upbringing in the northern industrial city of Torreon. Her father fought to support the family as he underwent business losses and her mother suffered at times from severe depression. At the age of 13, the artist underwent an out-of-body experience while dreaming. This was a precursor to the trance she has often since experienced while painting. In one episode, a few years ago, she fell into a six-hour meditative trance while working. After painting non-stop for that whole period, she awoke and realized it was her subconscious that had been creating the art.
Although de la Torre shoots in both color and black and white, the nudes she included in her show at Amapola Café are all black and white. I had seen some of the images in color and found them to be far more erotic than the black and white prints. She explained that she used the black and white prints, not only because she is enamored of Ansel Adams' gray-scale, but also because the grays suggest a muddy environment from which the models, like the lotus blossoms, are emerging.
On the one hand, the art may be personally therapeutic, but, as an artist, she has become a mediary or a conduit for the dark corners of the human soul, corners that most often stay in the shadows of our interior lives, now and then popping up to wreak havoc. De la Torre wants to bring those tortuous corners into the light through her photographs and paintings, allowing the internal to become connected to the outside world and to move viewers to do the same.
"You can't be battling yourself all the time. You have to face those dark corners, bring them into the light and heal them. Then you can blossom. That's what I'm trying to convey in the photographs at Amapola."
Born in Torreon, she moved to San Miguel at the age of 23. In addition to working at the café at Bellas Artes, she studied painting under Magdiel Perez. Also, while in San Miguel, she became a bride, marrying a Sikh in the first transcultural wedding allowed to take place in the Parroquia. That led to two children and a move to San Jose, California, where she spent time putting her graphic design talents to work in a corporate environment, for a number of global brands.
After devoting herself to raising her children, she let her pent-up creative urges loose, turning first to jewelry design before returning to photography and painting. Although this is her first solo exhibition in San Miguel, she will be back to exhibit with two other artists at Casa Europa in September.
I had a wide-ranging conversation with the artist one recent afternoon. We spent five hours talking surrounded by her work in Amapola Café. We discussed our kids, our disappointments, our loves, our nagging memories of battered childhoods, maturing past anger, our mothers, our fathers, our siblings, the weather, the rainy season... We left as they were closing, continuing our conversation as we walked along.
"Did we talk enough about my art?" she asked me as we strolled down Calle Jesus.
It was true that we did not speak specifically about her artwork all that much. But, looking back, I realize, we were really talking about her art the entire time.
The Inner World of Sandra de la Torre
shows 8:30am to 4pm through Friday, June 10
at Amapola Café, Hernandez Macias 117
Jeffrey R. Sipe is a writer/journalist, who, no matter how hard he writes, having grown up in Speedway, Indiana, still can’t get the sounds of race cars rounding Turn 4 out of his head. He has written about the film industry for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Sight and Sound, The Financial Times and other publications. He also once worked as the “boom guy” on a film that nobody saw, but he challenges everyone to see just how long they can hold a metal tube with a microphone attached over their heads.
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