Terri Saul

A Berkeley-Oakland border dweller, I’ve been an Art Murmurist from the beginning.

Born and raised in LA, I grew up surrounded by journalists, the Angeles National Forest, punk rock, Santa Ana winds, large breaks and little earthquakes. Near Santa Monica, Venice, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, I was immersed in the beauty and ugliness of coastal life. I learned to body surf in shallow waters, to kayak near the shore of Catalina Island, to barely pass the summer camp swim test. I also avoided storm drains after learning of young Angelinos being swept away while skateboarding or bicycling in them. In dreams I traversed the LA River. 

LA in the 80s was both alienating and invigorating. Image-makers were exploring things just beneath the surface or exposing deeper currents. The water series circles within the very same eddies. 

My Grandfather Chief Terry Saul, an Oklahoma Choctaw painter passed along his name and his paintbrushes to me. The bicycling series touches on familial influences as well as reaching more broadly across the Atlantic connecting personal experience with stories from as far off as Uganda. The images that surface in this series are about two impossible childhood fantasies, both dreams of a kind of “manhood” that didn’t yet seem off limits, that of being a fancy dancer on the Pow Wow circuit, and racing in the Tour de France.

On a broader level the series attempts to challenge conceptions of normality by juxtaposing two alien traditions that come together and even fuse at unexpected points of contact: the colorful regalia of the dancers; stoicism and feats of athleticism leading to transcendence; ritual movement within the context of the natural landscape; the individual’s realization of a “dream” that becomes truth by way of communal performance. 

In my work fantasies are not shattered by the growing pains of youth or the distractions we absently follow or even accidents. Nor does any issue of  gender roles or historical truth interrupt the world represented on the paper. Instead, there is a deeper connecting thread, the shaman’s spirit. 

Indeed, the artwork reveals an aspect of tribal culture often ignored in the common Westernized conceptions of the “Indian”, that is, our rich and phantasmagorical sense of humor.