100 Creatives

Tempe Artist Kendra Sollars: 100 Creatives

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 8. Kendra Sollars.

It's difficult to describe Kendra Sollars in one word, but "multitalented" might work best.

The 27-year-old Tempe artist grew up a competitive synchronized swimmer and took her aquatic talents all the way to The Ohio State University, where her team won two national championships in 2009. From 2011 through 2012, she performed with Cirque deSoliel's O in Las Vegas.

Lately? She's been busy working with Lauren Strohacker on Animal Lands, their Contemporary Forum grant-winning project that brings imagery and video of native wildlife to urban spaces.

See also: Phoenix Artist Nic Wiesinger: 100 Creatives

"My collaborative project, Animal Land, with Lauren Strohacker is my main focus at the moment," Sollars says. "Because it is ongoing and collaborative, the process is extensive. Whether we are filming animals at one of our partnering wildlife rescue/conservation centers, editing the footage, scouting installation locations, or creating exhibition pieces, Lauren and I always have something to do!"

The duo will show an Animal Lands piece at Chaos Theory 15 in October, and in May of 2015 they will display work made with their Contemporary Forum grant money at Phoenix Art Museum.

"Like most artists, I have a day job, so I fill my free time with the things that I love: working in my indoor garden, playing with my wildly energetic little dog, Minnie, and working on establishing my art career," she says. "A dip in the pool to go back to my roots never hurts either!"

Speaking of swimming, Sollars says she has plans to return to the pool in an artistic capacity. "In the near future I plan to build on my skills as a synchronized swimmer and choreographer and take those into the world of performance art."

Here's hoping she dives in soon.

I came to Phoenix with no choice. I'm a native! I moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 2005 to attend The Ohio State University but returned to my home state after graduating.

I make art because not everything that I want to communicate can be expressed in words. From a young age, I learned I could communicate through form and movement in synchronized swimming and the combination of, and transition from competitive performance to art-making was logical. As an artist, not only can I express more complex ideas but I also understand myself better.

I'm most productive when I am in a team or a partnership. During my early transition from athlete/performer to a different type of artist, Lauren Strohacker approached me to collaborate on and develop Animal Land. A shared vision is a powerful tool but the dependence between artists definitely raises the stakes. However, having grown up in an environment that constantly demands teamwork and accountability, the collaboration felt natural and I knew we would thrive.

My inspiration wall is more of a series of inspiration spaces. Whether I'm thinking about Animal Land or my own emerging work, ideas come from physical experiences. Because of my connection to performance, I understand that there is no inspiration wall for choreography. It has to be imagined and felt before it can be realized. My process as an artist stems directly from my interest and history with choreographed performance.

I've learned most from my experiences as an athlete. In synchronized swimming, absolute perfection is the goal so procrastination is not an option. You show up to the pool every single day whether you are sick, hurt, exhausted, or otherwise so dedication and resilience is required. You fail over and over and success only comes with persistence and insight. A dedicated art practice is no different, however, making art has taught me that success comes in many forms, and rather than chasing perfection I search more for evolution.

Good work should always evoke a feeling and then induce thought. My favorite work moves me emotionally to the point where I have no choice but to try to understand it. We are visual creatures and my work as a performer with Cirque du Soleil reinforced the importance of aesthetic and atmosphere when helping people imagine new worlds.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more exposure. In my experience, people who have never been to Phoenix assume that our art scene consists solely of Native American and Western art. While that is an important aspect of our cultural history, we have so much more to offer. Phoenix is full of creatives working in a variety of styles, from traditional to experimental and the rest of the world needs to know about it!

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres 22. Laura Spalding Best 21. Shawnte Orion 20. Mike Olbinski 19. Christina You-Sun Park 18. Jon Arvizu 17. Anya Melkozernova 16. J.B. Snyder 15. Damon Dering 14. Rebekah Cancino 13. Liz Warren 12. Timothy Brennan 11. Mimi Jardine 10. Rosalind Shipley 9. Nic Wiesinger

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski