The language of Eve

Marisa Sayago

Photo By Larry Dalton

One local sculptor approaches the mysteries glimpsed in blending the conscious and unconscious by taking the human body as the touchstone for her art. Originally from Argentina, Marisa Sayago was an apprentice to the sculptor Alfredo Cantarutti before moving to the United States to earn an MFA from the University of North Texas. In recent years she’s produced some of the liveliest sculptures in Sacramento, giving her audience new visions of flesh and physicality that create a dynamic language for the inner-self.

Sayago’s work concentrates on ideas that are emotionally universal. She renders clay bodies in strangely affecting positions, their soft fetal motions and rolling curves hinting at deep sparks of human connection, or decrying the lack thereof.

In 2003, Sayago co-founded the Eve Experience, a local group of artists looking to consciously probe their views “through the eyes of women.” The group held its first national show last October and will showcase its talent again this March at the Hang It Up Gallery in El Dorado Hills, where the riddles of Sayago’s body forms will be among the many exhibits that celebrate female art.

What is it about human forms that allows you to communicate through them?

It’s body language. There are innate forms in nature that we’re subconsciously already able to understand—that’s what makes human forms the best way to communicate to a wide range of people, and that’s what makes them the right vehicle for me to express my commitment to art.

Did growing up in Argentina influence this view?

Yes, it did. I think Latin Americans are more conscious of their body language when expressing themselves, especially in Argentina, where many of the cultural roots are from Italy. We really use our hands and facial expressions to articulate ourselves. I also think Argentineans touch each other a lot more than Americans touch each other. Americans have slightly different ideas about personal space.

Do you have a central concept in mind when you start a piece, or is it more spontaneous?

I do have a concept when I begin a piece. Basically, I try and get the composition done in my head before it’s anywhere near the clay. Invariably it will change because, in translating it into the three-dimensional world, you realize there’s things you have to alter in order to make it work. So while I have a concept, I always allow myself flexibility to change; that way, if something does change spontaneously, I’m able to go with it.

What direction do you see your art heading in the future?

I really want to do large public works. I enjoy doing small pieces; however I don’t reach a wide range of people through that venue. I’ll continue to do the small pieces because I love them so much—they’re so intimate, and they force you to go right to the piece itself. But at this point, I really would like to do larger things for the public.

How did the Eve Experience come about?

There were a couple of women artists who were taking classes with me where I teach at Folsom Lake College, not because they need it, but just because they wanted to continue to have some kind of relationship to art. We just started talking and saying, “We really need to get together and promote ourselves as women artists because we have a certain perspective on the world that men don’t have.” We believe we have a unique view, from things like child bearing and other female experiences, and so what we’re trying to do is promote that view through passionate art and to encourage other women to express themselves as well.

Does being part of the group impact the direction of your work?

I don’t think I’ve varied my work too much; but I do get support from my colleagues. We’re very honest and candid about what we think of each others’ work, which can help in terms of getting you out of your comfort zone. Right now, I’m in a place where I can do art and know what the outcome of it is going to be, so it’s good when people I know can challenge me to try something different and new within my own concepts.