Brooklyn based artist, Sarah Zar, paints, sculpts and builds installations that create postmodern narratives that mingle with external and interior realities. Her paintings, often executed in low-lit, moody colors, are filled with bizarre figures, interacting or inhabiting solitary scenes with other unnatural presences, absences, and transpositions.
She is often influenced and inspired by history, literature and libraries.
In her own words
When did you first realize you were an artist?
When I was three years old, I woke up in the middle of the night, and have known ever since that I must make art. The moment was more internal and involved than that, but I think that this is not an uncommon experience. Being an artist is like waking up, differently, over and over again, and never wanting to go to sleep.
Please tell us more about your art and design background
I have an MFA, but the moment when I started working really seriously on my skills was when I was a young person, by becoming an apprentice to a master of Renaissance Style Caste Drawing. Since then, my art background has been comprised of an intense combination of study, experimentation, practice, and learning to embrace interesting mistakes.
While pursuing my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work as a preceptor in a class called “Foundations of Great Ideas”. Besides being a wonderful scientific resource and an inspiring mentor, the professor I worked for provided me with a way to open a public critical dialogue and transcend some of the barriers that exist between highly specialized fields. I developed and taught a section of the course devoted to the exploration of quantum physics and comparative literary theory, both of which had preoccupied me for many years. I focused on juxtaposing the logic and symbolic systems of both fields and applying them to other creative arenas, such as art and psychology, as a way of exploring larger sets of interrelations. This approach is now an essential aspect of my artistic practice.
What artists and influences have driven your work and why?
I have been lucky enough to find some truly phenomenal mentors and colleagues along the way, and it is their impact that has really shaped the landscape of my history as a maker.
I admire many contemporary artists, but I am also inspired by ideas outside the visual arts. My imagination is fueled by scientists and writers because so many of them have successfully been able to do with words what I strive to do with images. Among many others, I am influenced by Borges, Joseph Campbell, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. Their depictions of infinity, multiplicity, and psychological spaces feel to me like archetypal images, whose potency and timelessness enthrall me.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
To me, “being creative” means chasing your curiosity towards your potential, through sequential acts of making. Artists are like dragons, with a trove of universe in their coves. I mean that artists (humans + ______) of all mediums have the ability to hoard any of their perceptions from all the world over as if they were gems in their own private pile of treasures. They have the option of accessing anything in the universe through their art. By hoarding and expressing perceptions (filtering anything that moves them through their own creative process/artistic production), they begin the active curation of their reality. Like a dragon, choosing its jewels. And through that curation, artists have the option of collecting and altering all that is, was, wasn’t and might be. I am always telling my apprentices that they can keep everything that inspires them, as long as they let it ignite and smolder. That giving through making is equivalent to keeping. That they can give anything. Everything.
My studio is in Brooklyn, NY, but most of the actual “hard work” of art-making (the thinking part) takes place elsewhere, wherever I go. I think it’s important for young artists to remember this: even if you don’t have any space of your own in which to make work, if you have two hands, at the very least, you always have the space between them. A studio does not need to be any smaller than a universe or a life.
Where do you hope to take your work in the next few years?
I’m working on a long-term (secret) project right now, so I am focused on that for the next few years. I hope that in three years, it will be ready to share.
Sarah Zar was born in Rochester, NY. She received her BFA from the University of Albany, studied abroad at the Ontario College of Art and Design then earned her MFA from Montclair State University in 2010. Zar has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad including shows at Denise Bibro Fine Art/ Platform Gallery in NYC, the Chautauqua Institution, and Afterhours Projects in Toronto, Ontario, where she presented her recent body of work, Nomads on the Shore.
All images courtesy of Sarah Zar | www.sarahzar.com
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