Born in Hawaii to a Japanese mother and a military aviator father, Sali Swalla’s early years were spent living in various US states, as well as Japan and Korea. After attending University in Tokyo, she moved to Los Angeles and finally began to put down roots. Having moved so often in her youth, Sali developed a unique inner life, fed by the enormous variety of places she has lived. Her work is an expression of longing and loss, tightly related to a search for wholeness and something beyond the tangible world. Process-heavy layering, veiling, and scraping away serves as a metaphor for personal growth.
"I am a painter of imagined landscapes and gardens. Through them I strive to make tangible the intangible, just beyond our reach, spiritual side of nature. I am drawn to the close up nooks and crannies of a garden, the whimsy of a bouquet and the horizon line where tree and flower meet Sky. They imbue me with a sense of communing with the Divine in a kind of active mediation. I wish for my work to allow others to experience the same and to see more than what is right in front of them. I use a variety of tools – brayers, squeegees, palette knives, ceramic tools, stencils and razor blades to lay down these layers over many days, allowing each layer to fully dry. Eventually these layers are covered over and then scraped and carved back into to reveal the piece’s final form and true nature. Like a mystery revealed, my work becomes a diary of my experiences in the world as well as a dream of how I’d like the world to be." - Sali Swalla