Luis Sahagun – Chicago, Illinois

title: Touched by Fire (moon series) Medium: osb, drywall tape, screws, drywall chalk on panel Size: 48"x48"x3" year 2015

title: Touched by Fire (moon series) Medium: osb, drywall tape, screws, drywall chalk on panel Size: 48″x48″x3″ year 2015

Briefly describe the work you do. 

Currently I am interested in investigating the in-between spaces where visions, intuition and storytelling combine to create an invented reality.  Using personal stories as a starting point allows me to approach subject matter with a new perspective.  This combination in my artistic methodology allows for the paintings and sculptures to be created in the form of representation and expressive abstraction.  All of my work is made out of construction materials such as drywall, drywall tape, quikrete, osb, joint compound, stucco, screws, and wood glue. 

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

I come from a working class culture.  I grew up in Chicago Heights, Illinois a city known for its contribution to the U.S steel industry.  I started working in the trade of construction when I was 15 years old.  I attended Bloom high school and simultaneously worked in a restaurant during the week and did drywall on the weekends. During the summers of my collegiate studies at Southern Illinois University I would work as a laborer building wood trusses, pouring concrete, drywall taping and roofing.  Furthermore, after graduating S.I.U- C, I began working as a design engineer designing custom millwork and furniture for restaurants.  

I am passionate about using the skills I have learned as a construction worker, designer and artist to create artwork that is unique to my personal story. I think there is something romantic in making artwork that deals with the dreams of the working class. 

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

My studio practice may currently be descried as traditional, in the sense that most of the artwork I make is created in the studio. However, I do maintain other practices that are easily transportable outside of the studio walls. For instance, I enjoy starting most of my morning by wood carving outdoors or painting the sunrise with watercolors. Additionally, I do a lot of reading and writing at local coffee shops, which strongly informs my art practice.

title: untitled (moon guardian) Medium: burned wood, resin, oil, spray paint, drywall, polystyrene foam, brad nails, wood glue Size: 18"x26"x12" year 2015

title: untitled (moon guardian)
Medium: burned wood, resin, oil, spray paint, drywall, polystyrene foam, brad nails, wood glue
Size: 18″x26″x12″
year 2015

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I am embracing the role of a storyteller. Creating work that is narrative is a new direction for me.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I currently have the honor of being in a year long art residency in Roswell, New Mexico.  Due to this very fortunate circumstance I am able to make art at all times of the day. Most of the time I start working in my studio in the middle of the afternoon and ending the session after sunrise.  I am embracing a rediscovered sense of wonder and therefore I make it a habit to pause from my daily tasks and experience the sunrise, sunset, the moon and earth.  

title: Untitled (Donkey) Medium: quikrete, maseca, wax size: 18" x 15" x 9"

title: Untitled (Donkey)
Medium: quikrete, maseca, wax
size: 18″ x 15″ x 9″

How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?

I made the decision to fully devote myself to making art full time in 2011. Since then, I believe my art has evolved exponentially due to the generosity of art educators, mentors and friends. In the beginning, my paintings and drawing were figurative and representational.  Throughout the years I have developed a passion for creating work that is more abstract.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

As an artist I am influenced and inspired by all of the above.  I have been impacted by witnessing the hard working values and optimistic viewpoints of my parents.  I enjoy reading theories developed from philosophers that have and continue to shape art history. Additionally, I enjoy collaborating, reading and listening to podcasts from scholars that deal with ideas of ancestral legacies, anthropology, folk stories, and Meso-American artifacts.  All of the ideas, experiences, and knowledge that I acquire from these people have impacted my work in many ways. 

For example, in 2014 I had the opportunity to work with Alebrije folk artist Luis Raul Ibanez in Arrazola, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Luis and I worked together for weeks to create wood carved sculptures that intertwined both of our creative processes. Among the multiple things I learned from my experience in working with Luis, the most significant was the importance in including your ancestral history into your art.  This way of making really transformed my thoughts and has led me to the development of my new body of work.   

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests? 

Yes. Before becoming an artist I pursued the career of Industrial Design. As mentioned before, I worked as a Design Engineer for a company that designed furniture for the restaurant industry. In addition, I also worked as a Technical Illustrator for an engineering firm. I also have a strong interest as an art curator and exhibition designer. I really enjoy developing exhibits that are culturally relevant to todays contemporary climate. Recently, I had the great opportunity to be the Interim Art Director for Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights, Il. There with the help of a wonderful staff and board members we developed National juried art exhibitions, art programs for the community and began an outreach agenda to benefit local students that do not have access to art in the city’s public schools.   


headshot-Lsahagun(b. Guadalajara, 1982) Education: MFA, 2015, Northern Illinois University; BFA, 2006, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Exhibitions: Anderson Museum of Modern Art,Roswell NM; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago,IL; Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL; Kruger Gallery Chicago, Chicago, IL;Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Union Street Gallery, Chicago Heights, IL; La Chikatana Galeria, Oaxaca, Mexico.Residency: Roswell Artist in Residency, Roswell, NM; Arquetopia, Oaxaca, Mexico  Bibliography: New American Paintings, Chicago Tribune,ViveloHoy, Gapersblock, Visual Art Source, MundoFOX, NewCity, TimeOut Chicago. Awards: Northern Illinois University Merit Fellowship, Jack & Eleanor Painting Scholarship, Academic Research Assistantship-NIU. Instructor: Northern Illinois University (2014).


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.



About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
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