Carissa Potter x SFMOMA

Carissa Potter photo by Misha Velasquez

It started with a question — what if we asked Carissa Potter to draw her interpretation of the SFMOMA Living Wall? —  and it led to a beautiful collaboration.
Carissa Potter is an artist who lives and works in Oakland, California. She received her MFA in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2010, is a founding member of Colpa Press, and is the founder of People I’ve Loved, her business name for works that include prints and editions. Her art practice reflects her hopeless romanticism through investigations into public and private intimacy. Speaking both humorously and poignantly to the human condition, Carissa’s work explores themes we all can relate to.

Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall inspired umbrella

Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall inspired umbrella

For this collaboration, Carissa painted the SFMOMA Living Wall and worked with our Museum Store product development expert to produce a line of apparel and products that you will only find at SFMOMA. We love talking with Carissa and asked her a few questions about her work:

Q: Can you share a bit about your creative process?

A: As cliché as it sounds, I have to be inspired or curious about something. I am human and I feel like most humans feel this need to make things and find meaning. Before I move on, I feel like we should define some :

1. Meaning — I personally associate this word with a sense of purpose. For something to have meaning to me, it has to be part of a constellation that consists of application to life/experience or future expectations, understanding of place/past, or a theory/explanation that seems convenient for the context/present.

2. Inspiration — A moment of interest. An acknowledgement or excitement about something. A will to explore and spend time with. A signal or directive to focus on in the pursuit of meaning Often this takes the form of a problem that I can solve, accept, or let go of. File under: A will to make (sense of) things.

But what if the reality is that we live in a meaningless universe? I don't say this with judgment. It just feels ultimately true for me at this moment. However, I pacify my choices, interests, and ultimately life with the idea that the meaning humans create is still meaningful. I also have a deep need to be loved and understood. I really enjoy having difficult, vulnerable conversations. They help me understand and feel connected.

Oh, the question was about process. I get inspired, and then the process of understanding and creating meaning unfolds. I write and draw out situations that are both real and imaginary, hopefully relatable.

Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall Sweatshirt

Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall inspired sweatshirt

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a Bay Area artist?

A: The people. I have the good fortune of knowing lots of nice people here. I am sure there are nice people everywhere, I just haven't met them yet.


Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall inspired Carter Move Mug

Q: Can you tell us about one of the items that you enjoyed creating for SFMOMA?

A: Okay, so the things I don't really like doing involve numbers and the IRS, so everything beyond that mostly has an appeal. I can talk about what interested me in creating a pattern from the Living Wall. I got really excited about not thinking about things. Just taking delight from the colors and textures of all that the plant life on the wall has to offer. It is endlessly interesting to think about the complicated life forms that make up the family of ferns. I took deep breaths. Allowed myself to make marks with sumi ink on paper (my favorite medium by far). If you have not tried it, I appreciate in a purely tactile manner the way that the brush, ink, and paper gently affect each other, falling in love and crossing boundaries to be close. Making things that are about a record of time and space are important to me. I have a fear of forgetting. I am sure you can relate. Or maybe not. Intrigued? You can find the Carissa Potter x SFMOMA collection here.


 Carissa Potter x SFMOMA Living Wall inspired tote bag