Seven international artists share the destinations they’re dreaming of visiting once travel kicks off again, from Senegal to the American Southwest.
Étretat, a small town on the Normandy coast, was once a desolate fishing village. But whereas the normal eye saw only a lack of enchantment here, Claude Monet’s eye saw otherwise. The Manneporte, a massive natural arch that jutted from the coast to the ocean, would occupy twenty oil canvases birthed by the impressionist artist in the early months of 1883. The sunlight’s effect on the Manneporte offered the perfect interpretation for an impressionist artist: a focus on the vibrations of light and color.
And just as Étretat struck Monet with wonder, other landmarks offer a similar spark of inspiration for artists around the world. As the world slowly (and appropriately) begins to reopen, artists are thinking of travel destinations that exude beauty, evoke mystery, and incite wonder in hopes to launch their next artistic endeavor.
From reaching within and discovering more about one’s cultural heritage in the American Southwest to revisiting the boundless textures and colors in Senegal, seven artists share where they hope to find their next beacon of inspiration.
1. Southwestern U.S.
Rose Simpson, sculptor and performance Artist
“I’m excited to travel deep into the depths of my own personal genetic history. I look forward to making time to travel to the places my direct ancestors lived, to see how those places feel to my soul. I don’t have to go far, as my ancestors have lived in the southwestern U.S. for thousands of years. I’ve been to places like Mesa Verde, and Chaco Canyon, and even to the more local ruin sites around my reservation, but I want to return with a new dedication to my personal responsibility and relationship to this land—from deep in the past and into the future.
The more I can be present and aware of my ancestral connection in these places, the more I can know myself, even if it is difficult or the story has sadness and hurt. With these deeper connections, my creative work can only become more genuine. How much has my process been colonized? How has appropriation become the status quo? Returning to my roots will hopefully provide answers to some of these questions I do daily battle with.”
2. Saint Louis, Senegal
“Whenever I looked around the gallery during my time of isolation, I couldn’t help but reflect on the multiple times I visited Saint Louis, Senegal. With every visit, I discovered another piece of inspiration in a city so rich in color and textures. It’s home to a jazz festival that thousands of people flock to annually, as well as a prominent art scene best known for is its weaving. The winding river path at the famous Saint Louis bridge that connects the two islands paints a picture of serenity.”
3. Tulum, Mexico
Set Free, founder and curator of The Compound Gallery
“I came to Tulum right before COVID-19 stormed the world, and even though I never intended to stay here for so long, it’s been more than what I expected. Tulum, Mexico, fascinates me because of the art and the spiritual realm it channels through rich Mayan history, culture, ancient architecture, and landscapes.”
4. Kigali, Rwanda
Shar Tuiasoa, artist and owner of Punky Aloha Studio
“I’m always interested in finding similarities between other cultures and Polynesian culture. Sometimes the connections are where you’d least expect them to be and sometimes the similarities give us truths we may or may not be ready for. The more commonalities I find in other cultures, good and bad, the more connected to myself and my artwork I feel.
I’d love to travel to Rwanda to find those connections and see those new colors, textures, and patterns. What inspires a fresh approach to creating artwork is the combination of the self-growth and visual stimulation you get when you travel.”
5. The Netherlands & Italy
Katy Wallace, multidisciplinary artist
“I pull a lot of inspiration from art history for my work. I borrow from Catholic iconography and baroque compositions and then re-contextualize those images to speak on feminist narratives. The more I learned about art from the Middle Ages, the more I came to understand the social hierarchies that existed then and have informed how we understand each other now, especially within the art world.
That being said, I see myself in the Netherlands or Italy, where baroque painters excelled and their work is easily accessible. I think it would help me to better understand the overarching culture and environment that produced these paintings.”
6. Hudson Valley, New York
Coco Ma, sculptor, painter, and performance artist
“I want to travel to more places in the Hudson Valley area in New York. As someone living in a big city in China for most of my life, I was fascinated by the nature and poetic culture in the Hudson Valley area when I first came to the U.S. The found materials in nature always offer me a lot of inspiration, and I intend to do site-specific installations with these materials in the future.”
7. Vienna, Austria
Pancho Piana, painter
“I think my work is most notable for its celebratory tones—I love capturing Filipino festivals. So my plans for an exhibition in Vienna, Austria is meant to combine Austrian and Filipino culture. I’ve always observed Austrian music, art, and architecture with admiration and am most interested in how two seemingly juxtaposing aesthetics can somehow be unified.”