The painted portraiture serves as the spine of Shizu Saldamando artwork, people and their faces are her artistic engagement. Mainly, individuals on blank backgrounds, divorced from their context; for her, their bodies, not the setting, tell the real story.
Shizu is the daughter of a Japanese-American mother and a Chicano father, she was born in San Francisco and has devoted her career to highlighting subcultures and investigating social constructs through her art. Drawing from her personal cultural perspective, Shizu offers an intimate take on formal portraiture; presenting portraits of friends, fellow artists, queer and of color activists — individuals that are not often highlighted or uplifted in contemporary culture, just people she likes and admires. Her work functions as homage, as well as documentation of countercultures within and around Northeast Los Angeles.
Shizu has already questioned herself in one of her interviews if we really need more images and more paintings of the struggling immigrants. For her, there has to be a better narrative rather than Latinx trauma. There is this intimacy in her drawings and paintings which bring you into these vulnerable moments with her subjects, to Shizu those people don't have to be exceptional persons of color, they don’t have to be the most honorable, they don’t have to be dead, they don’t have to be a martyr, they can just be relatable, people who you can have s connection with.
Saldamando’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, and videos have been exhibited both locally and internationally and experiment with a broad range of surfaces and materials. In addition to painting, she has a successful tattoo practice, specializing in portrait tattoos.