Studio Visit with Tamara Santibañez at MAD, NYC
Exiting the elevator, I encounter a glass case filled with her sculptures based on her personal punk and BDSM items, like a bullet belt, bound handcuffs, and her newly created larger-than-life belt studs. Each work (except for one) is painted delicately with blue, red, and yellow designs, and flowers, inspired by traditional Talavera pottery. Entering her studio, Santibañez greets me while exuding a calm confidence, focused on her painting yet able to engage with me completely. Her ability to multitask comes from her years of tattooing, as I discovered when she tattooed me this March and listened to my chatter.
On the wall is her new body of work using Mexican leather tooling techniques, a mixture of completed and works-in-progress leather pieces, with metal/punk designs that you’d expect to see on any punk rocker. Like the hand-sewn leather shirt that hangs prominently with a large grim reaper design. It’s this mixture of low-brow culture, her own experiences as a Chicanx female, and her fine art techniques, that makes Santibañez’s work not only fascinating but successfully bad ass in execution.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUNNY LEERASANTHANAH