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Friday, February 17, 2017

VIKING VUE: An In Depth Interview with Second Life Artist Sapphire Viking - Dean Lawson Reporting


Sapphire Viking is an artist whose whimsical work celebrates the raw nature of mutable female emotions. Sometimes fantastical, other times dark.  Her paintings and drawings reflects personal experiences expressed through metaphors of color and femininity. I had the good fortune to interview Sapphire and talk to her about her work.
Dean : How did you first learn about Second Life and what appeals to you about living in the virtual universe?
Sapphire : I was traveling and read an article about Second Life in the in-flight magazine.  That was 10 years ago and I don't remember where I was going.  But I am glad that I remembered to go home and check out this new virtual world. The most appealing thing to me about SL is the wealth of imagination, the totally uninhibited creativity.  It is ever changing with magical surprises. I am thrilled to meet people from all over the world and see how similar we human beings are.  I love that I can go sailing in the morning, fly home in a helicopter,  work on my own art gallery,  then go dancing at 5 clubs in the same night.  I guess you could say SL appeals to my restless nature and need to explore.
Dean : A lot of your work seems to feature female forms. Does all of your work revolve around representing the female form? If so, why?
Sapphire : Much of my work is autobiographical. The females represent different events in my life or an emotional state I am trying to express.  As I was growing up, I had a difficult time verbalizing my emotions because I did not feel safe to do so.  I found sanity by getting those feelings out through visual art.  On a pragmatic level, I find the female form to have many more options for expression and use of color.
Dean : The painting "Non Sine Soleiris" reminds me of the movie "Il Casanova" by Frederico Fellini, while "CRAWLING" reminds me of Japanese Anime. Could you tell me about your artistic influences?
Sapphire : My father was an artist and my mother always made sure I had supplies. I would go to my father's studio while he worked.  I remember the smell of musty old wood and oil paint.  He would sit me down with pens and paper or clay and tools and let me go to town.  When we were at his studio it was a peaceful, happy time and I still have that feeling when I work today.  The other artists who have influenced me are many.  I admire line work so some of the early influences were; Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Egon Schiele, George Grosz and the artists of Mad Magazine. I also read about the women of the surrealist movement so for me Remedios Varo, Leonor Fini & Leonora Carrington.  Frida Kahlo, her vibrant colors and the way she opened herself up so fearlessly was a big influence.  Margaret Keene, when I was a little girl I was delighted to buy small cardboard prints of her paintings at the local drug store!  I do enjoy the art of anime and am also a fan of artists Takashi Murikami and Yoshitomo Nara.  Growing up in Los Angeles I was influenced by films and enjoyed watching the old classics.  I was fascinated by the elegant yet strong women portrayed in films, stars like Betty Davis, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. I also find new artists that I enjoy on Instagram.   These days my favorite Instagram artist is a woman named Grace Passerottti.  In SL I love the work of Cica Ghost and can't wait for her newest installation. The way she uses the SL environment to express emotion is profound. 

Dean : The painting "The Gift" portrays a woman tied up in a ribbon, from her expression she doesn't seem too thrilled about it. The painting "The Bow" portrays a woman gagged by a bow, what are your views on bondage, and sado masochistic relationships? Do you explore this lifestyle in real life or Second Life or both?
Sapphire : When I was a child my house was filled with art history books.  I remember being fascinated with the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece the Garden of Earthly Delights. Particularly the depiction of hell.  The drama and dynamics were thrilling to me. When I was a teen I was into punk rock and that was my first real life introduction to BDSM but I was too young to understand what it was. After my first serious relationship broke up, I felt it was due to the constant power struggle that is the demise of many "vanilla" relationships.  I already had an unexplored interest in BDSM and as I tend to do, jumped in feet first.  It changed my life.  While the physical side, the whips and chains are dramatic and look good in movies they are external. In my opinion, the basis of BDSM is a method of communication and understanding of roles. My RL experiences were another form of self-exploration and inspired many of the paintings that I display in my SL gallery.  I have been active in the Los Angeles BDSM scene on and off for about 15 years.  During that time, even though I am naturally dominant, I was trained as both a Domme and a sub.  Neither role is greater or less than and can not exist without the other. In SL I have been active in the Femdom scene for about 9 years.  My RL experience helps me when I meet those who come to the Femdom simply out of curiosity or a life long desire. Because of my RL experience in both roles, I have a good understanding of the dynamics and the big picture.
Dean: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about you or your work?
One day I was perving profiles and someone wrote in theirs, "Second Life is my art".  That really struck me and I started looking at SL differently.  I wanted to make it part of my art too. I felt that the colorful world of SL was a good fit for my aesthetic. I have been taking classes at Builder's Brewery in hopes of expanding my horizons within the SL environment. As I mentioned, I am inspired by the in-world installations of Cica Ghost as well as others that I have visited.  I would eventually like to create some type of installation.  I don't know how long it will take or what it will be exactly, but it is something I am formulating in the back of my mind. Thank you Dean, for your thoughtful questions and this opportunity to reach out to the Second Life community.
To learn more about Sapphire Viking and her work click on the following link or visit her art gallery “Viking Vue” at the following SLURL

Dean Lawson


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