100 Creatives 2012: Magid Salmi

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What He Does: Magid Salmi needs a break. The artist has had three shows in the past two months in Houston, which is no small feat. The works all revolve around his "GMO Quarantine" series, a clever, ingenious look at genetically modified foods, which includes photographs of foods mixed with electronics, such as garlic that looks like an iPod, and sculptures comprised of small fruits prodded with computer circuits and then cast in resin.

These resin pieces are the latest in an ever-evolving career for the Parisian, who started out as a commercial photographer in Paris.

"I always hoped I could expand my career into fine art photography," said Salmi.

After moving to Houston two years ago, his hope was realized, as his art career truly blossomed. In 2010, he got into the "Big Show" at Lawndale and won second prize at the Art League's juried "Gambol" show. He came back to win first place at "Gambol" this year after catching the eye of juror Mary McCleary, just as his first solo exhibition at Spacetaker wrapped up.

"I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at Spacetaker for their encouragement, support and giving me so much freedom to just create," said Salmi. "They're a great resource for local artists."

Currently, you can find more of his resin pieces at Peel Gallery, where he was selected by Jennifer Ash to join the small group show "A Brave New World."

Why He Likes It: Salmi values the independence that the life of an artist can afford.

"I love being in my studio and working at my own pace," said Salmi. "I don't really have to answer to anyone except myself, and sometimes the wife."

What Inspires Him: As the GMO series indicates, Salmi draws inspiration on news stories and events happening around the world. Really, anything that makes him strongly react.

"Typically it's anything and everything that makes me cringe, which is a lot of stuff," said Salmi. "Also, a good social documentary or sometimes just something I see or hear in the street."

If Not This, Then What: Salmi's father was a restaurateur in Paris, and he even grew up working in them. So if he wasn't making art, the artist could picture himself in the family business.

"I make a pretty mean French onion soup, which is just onion soup where I'm from," he said.

If Not Here, Then Where: Given his Paris roots, Salmi could see himself living in a major European city -- and taking advantage of the easy travel it affords.

"The distances are much smaller, making it easy to country-hop," said Salmi. "I love that taking the train for two hours takes you to a whole other culture with different languages and food."

What's Next: Salmi doesn't like to slow down -- he has a lot of ideas, speaks a mile a minute, and is already at work on some new resin pieces and photography projects. But given the whirlwind of the past few months, he's ready to take a break to reboot.

"After being in three exhibitions in the last two months, I think I just need to do a little recharging," said Salmi.

Still, don't expect 2012 to be any less productive for this creative to watch.

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