How Sugar brought Saul Flores to NFTs

Sugar land A Farmer Gaze
Sugar land A Farmer Gaze

You’ve said that crypto is helping artists escape the cycle of poverty. Can you expand on that?

I grew up poor in Brooklyn, New York. I remember picking up aluminum cans with my grandmother to save money. Despite my family working multiple jobs, we’ve stayed poor over the last few decades. Over the years, I’ve learned that every system in America has been built to slow us down. Bitcoin and crypto is an escape from everything that has worked against us. Being a Bitcoin HODLER is my protest to every system this country has put up against me

As a POC, what does it mean for you to be able to make a living from your NFTs? To be compensated in perpetuity for that work?

It’s unreal! My first NFT collection is a full charity project (so I’m not making any money!) BUT the thought of sustaining myself through my artwork is unprecedented. I don’t think we’ve ever been as equipped to become as sustainable as we are now

You’ve said “Your imagination is your power. Don’t forget.” What does that mean?

The media has tormented us in this country. In the NFT space, we can create anything. We can create our own worlds, our expressions, and nothing can stop us. Our imagination can finally let us live our wildest dreams. 

What moves you most about the process of making sugar?

For us, sugar making is holy. Everything from watering the fields to cutting the cane has significance in Atencingo, Mexico. I spent most of my childhood running through our sugar mill and learning the craft, but it wasn’t until I grew up that I truly started to appreciate the process. 

You traveled to the fields, what was that like?

Traveling to the fields taught me dignity. Through a capitalistic lens, it’s easy to feel sorry for the workers and farmers. A life under the sun isn’t easy. But, if you remove that lens, you’ll learn to see a proud and dignified working class. 

My favorite photo from the series is “Man and his Machete.” Tell me the story behind this particular photo.

In Mexico, a worker’s machete is his sword and his companion. Over time you learn to respect the machete and the machete will respect you. For the workers, it’s what puts food on the table. It’s an iconic symbol of our hard labor. 

Your work reminds me of Marvelous Sugar Baby by Kara Walker. Have you seen it? If so, what are your thoughts about this work?

I had not, but I just watched the short documentary and it gave me goosebumps. Kara Walker has spoken up on a lot of the issues around race and ethical agricultural practices. I love her experimentation with form. Ironically, I’m also really interested in clay modeling and silhouettes, so this comes at a perfect time. 

What will you be minting next?

Oh oh ohhh! I can’t say just yet, but it will be political. I’m trying to funnel my anger and frustration into something that can have a positive impact on our communities. I haven’t forgotten the pain of the last administration and I’m hoping to get much more political through my future work. 

Keep up with Saul’s work via his IG, Twitter and support his work on Foundation.

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