Editor´s Note: Artist of The Week Interviews is a series of artist interviews curated by Art Throng-a global contemporary art curatorial think-tank whose mission is to make art in all its expressions available across cross-cultural platforms. In these weekly interviews, we cover noteworthy artists from across the world, in different mediums of artistic expression from illustrations to design, sound to performance, photography to portraits, sculptures to motion. Here is our fourth artist of this weekly series- Sarah Creasman Barnett.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process while creating a painting?
I use a photograph as a reference when I paint. It is never a goal for me to recreate a photograph, but to translate the photograph to a painting. I am constantly thinking about my palette and composition because eventually, the painting has to stand on its own without the photograph. I work on paintings in several sittings.
2. Where do you find your inspiration ?
Lately, I am inspired by old family photographs and the nostalgic film quality. I am also interested in interior spaces and the objects that we choose to inhabit those spaces. I really enjoy following contemporary artists and artist platforms on social media and I am always finding inspiration in other artists’ work.
3. You are originally from Arkansas? What was your childhood like, did you have an artistic inclination from the beginning?
I am originally from a small town in Arkansas outside of Little Rock. I grew up loving art, and my mother, who is an artist, always encouraged that in me. When other kids were outside playing sports, I was inside coloring.
4. Women are a central theme in your work and you aim to create elements of domestic painterly language, with a fine contemporary, feminist twist. Could you tell us a bit about that?
These paintings are really personal for me. I am interested in female narratives and how those can be portrayed in a painting. I studied art in college and went on to become an attorney. I recently became a wife and a mom. A woman’s role is always on my mind, so I think that is why I am so interested in these old family photos of my female relatives. These paintings are not meant to be any kind of social commentary about the role of a woman, past or present. Instead, these paintings are a personal exercise I undertook to translate old family photographs into paintings in which I could be present.
5. Do you use your family photo albums, as a starting point for your paintings or the objects in your paintings?
My recent work references old family photos featuring my female relatives. As the work progresses, I paint in elements from my current home. The additions are personally symbolic to me- like a glass vase my mother-in-law gave me as a wedding present, a small porcelain bird from my aunt, a window from my old dorm room, etc. This is my way of being present in that photo, too.
6. Who is a painter you look up to or which is your favourite piece of work of an artist?
I have always been attracted to the palettes of the Bay Area Figurative Artists like Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Diebenkorn. When I studied art in college, a contemporary artist, Gideon Bok, visited my painting class and that is when my interest in painting interior spaces developed. Lately, I am really drawn to contemporary artists like Daisy Patton for her portrayal of women intertwined with pattern and history.
7. Have you experienced an ‘artist’s block’ before? And if yes, how do you deal with it?
Absolutely. And, there are times when I am painting and I think, “Why am I doing this? None of this matters.” That’s when I find a lot of relief working on commissioned work. I’m fortunate to usually have a few commissions alongside my personal work. So, even if I am painting someone’s dog, I know it’s because someone really wants their dog painted and that gives me a purpose to continue painting. I learn something with each commission that I can incorporate into my personal work. I think it is important to just keep creating.
8. Can you explain us the role of ‘memory’ in your works?
I’m interested in how something two dimensional, like a photograph or a painting, can represent life-shaping memory. I am adding my own memories into old photographs that already represent a memory. My goal is to literally create a manufactured image of a memory. I think we kind of manufacture our own memories anyway.
9. Are there any specific projects or collaborations that you would like to pursue in the post COVID world?
I am hoping that my work continues to mature. Sometimes it is hard to leave a body of work to explore new subject matter. I recently started a new series of my husband and baby in quarantine, with a focus on stillness alongside rapid change.