Salvador Salort-Pons: Inspired by Velasquez and the Interconnection of Stories

Graphite on paper

Day 198 and Salvador Salort-Pons

We need to tell our stories because it takes hearing a story, and seeing the subsequent connection, to gain the courage to tell our own.

It was cold, it was dark, and the rest of the museum was closed. My family and I carried with us a nostalgia that fueled our anticipation. We had wanted to see the Star Wars Costume Exhibit for years, but life, and health, changed our plans, twice. 

While it’s a cliché, the third time was the charm. We got the very last tickets, to the very last exhibition, at the very last location, because we, here is another cliché, happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

My adolescent adoration for Star Wars grew from the movie’s campy atmosphere and from the archetypes that I could trace back to numerous characters in the literature and mythology I loved.

My adoration grew when I realized the symbols and archetypes aligned with Carl Jung’s collective unconscious. And then I wondered whether humanity’s similar stories really did evolve from a collective unconscious or if our stories appear to be so connected because they are just that: connected. 

Now back to the clichés: that night, in the lobby of the Detroit Institute of Art’s main entrance, the one off of Farnsworth Street, many stories in my life converged. 

As we checked in at the front desk, I immediactely recognized Salvador Salort-Pons, the Director of the DIA. I am not only a lifetime lover of the DIA, I’m also a member who had just finished reading the DIA’s newsletter and recognized his face.

My family, being my family, had to introduce ourselves. And then we began to share stories. My mom recounted how as a child, she took a clown face painting workshop at DIA and by sharing (even if it may have embarrassed my sister and I a little) she prompted Salvador, who was far from embarrased, to share his own clowning story, in fact, he lit up, opened his phone, and scrolled through his Twitter feed to show us that he, himself, is a champion of clowning, donning the facepaint and honoring the culture regularly.

And the stories wound around each other, through time, and connected into me explaining CognEYEzant, and in the moment, asking if he would be a subject for my project. And he said “yes”. And I asked him, as I do with each subject, who his favorite artist is, he responded Diego Velasquez.

And on the connections continued, as I researched I learned that Salort-Pons has a history full of Velasquez’s work, (to learn more click here) including the painting Pope Innocent X.

Which I was reminded of when I watched The Art Assingment’s video “The Case for Copying” The video referenced Velasquez’s painting Pope Innocent X and how it inspired Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X. Copying is an explicit form and expression of interconnected ideas. And copying art brings with it the context of time and space, the context of the artwork and the artist. In other words, with copying comes story. 

And so, as I copied Salort-Pons eye over and over in my sketchbook and thought of Bacon copying Velasquez’s work, my own story, this story, wound itself together and here we are now.

Perhaps our culture is built on the repeated stories of individuals. We need to tell our stories because it takes hearing a story, and seeing the subsequent connection, to gain the courage to tell our own.

Photographing Salvador Salort-Pons at the DIA