Risa Salsberg is a mixed-media artist based in Vancouver, B.C. Her illustrations are approachable, intimate and contemplative. Since 2005 she has created more than 3000 images for her “A Drawing A Day” series, documenting the transient experiences and subtle emotions of each day.
1. You mention your work reflects the time you spent living and studying with Buddhist nuns in a Tokyo Zen temple. Tell us more.
My time at the nunnery focused on the practise of shojin ryori (traditional Buddhist vegetarian cooking), enlightenment through cooking. My sensei stressed that the way to do everything was with kokoro (heart), kansha (gratitude) and saho (form). When you wash rice, wash rice with your whole heart. These same principles apply to my art practice; when I draw, I draw with my whole heart. I am in the moment. In my sensei’s art, cooking, and teachings, less was always enough. In my current series, I do not fill in every blank space. I leave room for the mind to rest.
2. If you could only use 3 words to describe your work, what would they be?
3. Is there a story behind each illustration?
In this series, the stories emerged as the work was created, without a preconceived idea of what the work would look like. It unfolded. Sometimes there was an emotion that would attach to the piece and I would work alongside that and go from there.
4. You sometimes use fibers and found materials in your work. How did this begin?
I keep the raven’s perspective and am always looking for interesting objects to bring home; certain materials hold an innate sense of inspiration for me. For example, during my first visit to Japan I fell in love with traditional washi paper. I was taken by its beauty and warmth, and love that it is handmade. Years later washi found a home in my work.