Interview with Sierra Aguilar aka Stardust Coyote 4/25/2021
Sierra Aguilar, known as Stardust Coyote, is a collage and mixed media artist living and working in San Diego, CA. In addition to being an artist, she is an art educator and creative mentor working with students in K-12 schools and adults with special needs. The name Stardust Coyote came about around 2012 because of Sierra’s interest in the cosmos, the theory that we are all made of stardust and ancient atoms, and her special affinity for the coyote, an animal with a paradoxical nature. Sierra started exhibiting her artwork as Stardust Coyote around 2015 and has since participated in many art events around San Diego. After some soul-searching, she decided to pursue a degree in Art Education, receiving her BFA in 2017 and teaching credential in 2018. She now balances her time between several art education-centered non-profits and her own artwork. In 2020, Stardust Coyote published Non-Sequitur Gore, a collaborative pop culture zine and she is excited to continue her foray into the self-publishing world. Since she is always learning new things, her work evolves along with her new knowledge. She continues to explore collage and mixed media, now layering in digital art, watercolor, and more political messaging. Her biggest goal for the future is to have a solo show at a local gallery.
Tell us about a project (or projects) you are working on.
Right now I’m working on a huge project: redoing my studio! I’m so excited about it. I am working with my dad to build custom studio furniture that I designed. We are making something totally unique and something that is custom-built for my unique workflow. I know a lot of artists are working out of home studios, like me, so I really wanted to take this year to create a creative sanctuary for myself. I envision it as a perfectly organized place with easy access to all my materials and a place I can be deeply generative. While I’m working on my home studio, I’m continuing to explore new methods of collage and found object art. I want to create a large-scale collage self-portrait as well as a few more magazine bead wall hangings. I take magazine pages and create beads with them. I’ve created a large-scale wall hanging and now I want to explore smaller scale and different styles and designs. In 2020, I released 2 issues of my zine Non-Sequitur Gore, and I plan to release another issue this year and I have other zine ideas in the works. I find myself interested a lot in book arts, so I may incorporate some of that into my next zine project.
How has this ongoing pandemic affected your work/practice?
The pandemic has really given me the gift of time. In the beginning of the lockdown, March of last year, I had a lot of time to kind of just rest and be. Although I was very anxious about how this was all going to play out, I finally had some time to just kind of chill out. That felt really good. As the months wore on, I started feeling inspired to dive into some projects that I didn’t have time for previously. I was able to explore furniture design, learn a ton of digital art techniques, and I even took a Museum Studies class through Mesa College. I also took time during the pandemic to realize some creative projects that I’d been thinking about for a long time, like my Non-Sequitur Gore Zine project. NSG is a collaborative zine about pop culture. I had great responses for my first and second issues and I can’t wait to do a third. I found that working with my hands helped me to cope with my anxiety. When things got really bad during the fall and winter, I found myself doing low-stakes crafting projects like making Halloween and Christmas decorations and making all of my Christmas gifts. I had a lot of fun doing this and it helped me realize that there are many worthwhile ways to be creative and that I don’t have to pressure myself to make ART all the time. I think the biggest lesson the pandemic has taught me is that I have plenty of time to create, I don’t have to rush. Sometimes I feel like other people are making so much more than me or making such better art than me (thanks Instagram!) and having times during the pandemic where I tuned all that out and just did my own thing was deeply healing for me.
When did your journey as an art maker/administrator/etc. begin?
I’ve always been a creative person, since I can remember. My family really encouraged my creativity from a young age and I’ve always loved making things with my hands from baking to drawing to playing in the dirt. When I got to high school, I really got into collage and started making these really elaborate art journals. I started toying with the idea of going to art school or pursuing a job in the arts around then. I used art to cope with my anxiety and depression in my early 20s. However, it took me until my mid-20s to really find confidence with my art, and honestly, I still feel like I’m figuring it out and finding my creative voice. Being an artist is a journey, not a destination and I like that things are always evolving. In 2016, I decided I was really going to go to art school and finish my BFA in art education and that’s where my art educator journey began. I love being a working artist at the same time I’m educating others, I feel like it allows my lessons to come from a really authentic place. I might pursue more education in the future, but right now I’m excited about this path!
What/who are some of your greatest influences?
My biggest influence is the countercultural movements of the 60s. I really can’t get enough and am always reading books about the visionaries, artists, and outsiders of that time. If I had a time machine, I’d head right there! I’m heavily influenced by the philosophy of Buckminster Fuller, spaceship Earth and I Seem to Be a Verb. Both these ideas have profoundly influenced not only my art but the way I interact with the world. I am also very into the concept of “access to tools” as evidenced in the Whole Earth Catalog and Ant Farm. I believe that having the access to tools and being able to do things yourself is foundational to the human experience. Sometimes I think we’re losing sight of that in our Amazon Prime world. I am super inspired by alternative ways of living like Drop City and Arcosanti. I think it’s important to exist outside of what can be bought or sold as much as you can, living for connections, learning, and experiencing life more fully. I love the way the 60s counterculture embraced ecology, environmentalism, and recycling. Evelyn Roth is a huge inspiration for me and why I feel passionate about repurposing materials in my art. As far as art movements go, I’m inspired most by Marcel Duchamp and the Dadaists and their philosophy about what art could be and the meaning of artistic intent, the first artists to push the envelope about what can be considered art.
Lastly, is there any advice or wisdom you’d like to provide to rising artists/arts leaders?
I think the best piece of advice I can give is to keep going and really listen to your own intuition. Today, we are constantly bombarded with messages and influences about what we “should” do, or how we can make more money, be more productive, etc. Some people might not get your art or what you’re trying to do with your life, some people might even say it’s a waste of time, but I really believe that being an artist is an inner calling. In some ways, I believe an artist is answering the call from a higher power. You have to stay tuned into that voice and that message that comes from within, be discerning. It’s easy to get bogged down by comparing yourself to others, but ultimately success is really about being true to yourself.
You can find Stardust Coyote online via:
or on social media: @stardustcoyoteart