Life & Love in the Drug-Friendly Era


Had he taken another path, San Franciscan Andy Diaz Hope might have been a tech titan. As it is, he is an artist known for unconventional processes and works, such as the pictures he makes by slicing photographs, rolling them up and inserting them into transparent gel capsules. Each “pill” is arranged on a grid to re-form an abstract image showing the effects of illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs. One displays the early-morning antics of people on hallucinogens, while another shows a pregnant woman on antinausea medication.

In his chandelier series, done in conjunction with his fiancée, artist Laurel Roth, elaborate light-fixture sculptures (pictured at left) drip with glittering hypodermic needles and crystal garlands. “It’s a reaction to the way our culture treats drugs, and how we, sometimes flippantly, try to modify our moods and functions,” he says.

That response was ignited when the artist’s grandfather, a prominent physicist, developed Alzheimer’s disease. Concerned, Diaz Hope’s mother began to research the medications given to her father and felt they were being used to sedate the elderly man. “After his meds were dialed back, he started to become more like himself,” says Diaz Hope. At the time, the artist was on track to follow his elder’s path, landing jobs at Microsoft and Apple after graduating from Stanford. But he just wasn’t passionate about the work. “I didn’t believe we were improving the quality of anyone’s life through technology,” he says.

These days, the artist has just wrapped up an exhibition with Roth at the de Young museum in SF. Their work can also be seen in “The Conflicts,” a show at the SF Public Library through July 6 that features tapestries illustrating conflicts in literature. Diaz Hope’s recent personal works—multifaceted mirrored sculptures (pictured at left)—deal with issues of an internal nature. “I’ve always been interested in exploring my place in the world,” he says, noting that one piece’s reflective exterior shows the many facets of a person’s appearance and that the glowing interior speaks to the hellfire that sometimes lies beneath. “In other words, it’s navel gazing,” he adds jokingly.

Whether it’s navel gazing or examining one’s worldview, Diaz Hope’s goal is to get you to look along with him. “I want people to pay more attention to topics that are politically, emotionally, mentally and physically charged,” he says. “I look at life and try to create little eddies along the surface of it.”

This was originally published in California Home + Design’s Summer 2013 issue. Click here to subscribe.

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