On May 13, ART123 Gallery will open “Prussian Horizons,” a solo show by up-and-coming Zuni artist Lakin Epaloose this May. We asked Lakin to tell us more about his background, creative process, and show concept–here’s what he shared: 
This is your first-ever solo show, correct? I am a recent graduate, class of 2022, and have taken a gap year to pursue fashion and art. I initially planned on studying at Columbia or Harvard to fulfill a pre-med track or pursue aeronautical engineering/physics, but I decided to change my plan which resulted in me having to start from scratch again. I never knew how to sew or even draw fashion sketches, so I’ve been improving that skill while building my art portfolio so I may present my work in shows all over the world in the future. This upcoming show will be my first and will mark the beginning of my journey.
How have you been developing your art practice? Art classes? Learning from family members? Self-teaching?  I started painting when I was 17, which was about 2 years ago. I started with watercolors in art class, mainly painting renditions of my dad’s artwork. After a couple months, I moved to painting with acrylics on my own. At that point, my dad had taught me his technique which is similar to the Flemish technique. I worked on about 8 acrylic paintings and just after I had turned 18, I received a set of oil paints as a gift. Since then, I’ve been using oils and improving my hand in this medium by studying work from Baroque artists such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
What are your influences as an artist? I perceive influence as fundamental in the subconscious manifestation of ideas. Influence, or inspiration, in my work, whether it’s visual art, fashion, music, film, or poetry, is developed from interactions that I have with people, places, movies, food, dogs, the sunset, and just about everything that I set my eyes and ears on. I used to believe that I was the source of my own inspiration, but I quickly realized that this intrapersonal perception was like a mirror reflecting another mirror; it led to nothing. Therefore, I often look to artists across the spectrum of time, style, and media as a source of influence when it comes to visual art in particular. For example, I take the Chiaroscuro technique used by Caravaggio, the Zuni cultural influence of my father’s work, the brutal concept of Ilya Repin’s work, and the idealism of Michelangelo’s work and combine those with my experiences that span from birth to the present. This results in the expression of both my conscious and my subconscious: a work of art.
What is your vision for “Prussian Horizons”? The presentation of “Prussian Horizons” is a story of my childhood and adolescence that I hope to weave together using the hue of blue accompanied by its shades, particularly Prussian blue. I’ve broken down the story into three fundamental sources of influence: Fredrich Nietzsche, Pablo Picasso, and the symbolism of blue that is used in Zuni art, clothes, and design. Friedrich Nietzsche, who was a 19th century philosopher born in Prussia (East Germany), expressed his ideology of suffering in Thus Spoke Zarathustra which brought me to the realization that suffering is necessary for growth in every aspect of life. Pablo Picasso experienced a stage of grief and hardship in his early adulthood wherein he created paintings. primarily using blue paints, which became known as the “Blue Period.” Most importantly, my life is founded on Zuni religion and culture. I hope to express all of these elements and connections in my presentation.
What do you hope people take away from your show? Through my presentation, I hope for people to understand that beauty is not only found in idealism in art and hedonism in life, but rather found in pain and death. These two aspects of experience give life its value, they push people to create and pursue, they call for the appreciation of time that we share with family or spend hiking the switchbacks of a path and reaching the summit of a mountain. I wish to curate this room as if it is my own mind and give people a chance to experience what it may be like to take a step in it.