i3C Group- Sarah Meyers Brent
In this episode, we are thrilled to introduce a remarkable guest, Sarah Meyers Brent, a visual artist known for her tactile paintings and sculptures assembled out of repurposed materials.
During this interview, Sarah will share her insights and experiences, revealing how her creative spirit becomes a powerful tool in addressing contemporary challenges.
Joana Alarcão: So, Sarah, thank you so much for being here today and agreeing to talk to me about the collective. We haven't talked in a while; you were one of my first guests on the podcast, and we haven't spoken since. Can you just start by telling us a bit about any new series of work or any concepts that you have been delving into in any experimentation with materials or creative process?
Sarah Meyers Brent: Well, this piece, kind of peeking out behind me, I made for a site-specific wall at a gallery that I just showed at, and I had meant it—was kind of interesting because it ended up being a piece that's made out of basically debris from painting.
And that, like, I saw a bunch of paint rags all assembled together, and then it creates like a larger sculpture that was like 85 inches across and sat on a wall, and I meant to just use the fabric to build up like an art, like sort of the base of the sculpture, and then I was going to add materials on top, like repurposed materials, like my old pieces, but I just loved how the paint fabric, it's like the paint, I like with paint, and then, you know, you rub your paintbrush off on the rag, and then it hardens the fabric and it has all this beautiful colour on it.
So I made that piece, but it's sort of also interesting because it's also like a comment on, I don't know, I do painting and sculpture, and it makes me think about how my sculpture is so much more just using repurposed materials and that painting is using a lot of new materials.
Joana: Okay. You have that duality with your paintings and your sculptures.
Sarah: Yeah. And then my paintings, like the one behind me here, are nature-based. So they sort of have the same themes, but, you know, I'm working on more canvas materials with paint.
Joana: So you are now able to do more site-specific sculptures?
Sarah: Yeah. I've always done site-specific sculptures, particularly when I have a show. I like to go to the venue, look around, look for something that inspires me in the surroundings, and often make a piece for it.
Joana: So can you tell us a bit about your experience with the collective? What motivated you to join?
Sarah: I knew a couple of artists, sort of, whose work, not super well, but who I saw that they were doing a Zoom presentation about their work and sort of what they do as environmental activists, and I just was so inspired listening to it. They all went through their work and sort of how their work tied into sort of what they were doing with their art and other things they were doing.
And I was just so inspired and just sort of... I am a member of the Mothers Out Front activist group, and I do a lot with the swatches and repurpose materials in my community. And I have artist friends, but I don't really have those two things. I don't know too many people who do both of those things together.
So it was really cool to hear a bunch of artists talking about how they're using their art to make an impact, or even if I'm not seeing the connection between their art and sort of their activism, just starting hearing that conversation is super interesting to me.
Joana: So you reached out to Adriana or to one of the artists that are involved?
Sarah: I believe I was just so inspired by it that I just wrote Adriana on Instagram. I was just so inspired by that. And then she asked to speak with me because, you know, seeing that my sculptures were sort of in line with her mission, and she is just, I don't know, she is just amazing.
Joana: Yeah. Yeah. She is. She is. I always enjoy talking with her.
She always has new perspectives on things, and she moves quite well. It's always good to talk to her. So have you felt that being in a collective has improved your reach and your voice, and that you have reached new audiences or wider audiences?
Sarah: I guess I'm still trying to figure this out a little bit.
I'm on the marketing committee for the collective, so I was also trying to think about... I already know about contacting the usual art press and that sort of thing, but I'm trying to spin my wheels to think about what other kind of reach we can have, sort of what people I would like to bring in and who aren't normally part of the art conversation.
So I'm sort of still trying to figure that out. I mean, I think from when we spoke before, I feel like I already have a pretty good reach sort of with my art in general, so I don't know if the collective, from a career standpoint, I'm not like thinking about it that way, but I do think there is something powerful about this sort of collective group of artists, and I do think there are people getting out to see these shows because we're doing them in different locations that maybe normally wouldn't see the art, and hopefully I just think that using the art is just a really good way to address the topics of climate in a way that people don't like are open to hearing it.
Joana: So have you been part of any talks, workshops, or conversations within the collective?
Sarah: Yes, I had a fun conversation with Jeffrey Nolan, who also works with lots of fabrics, but he does more weaving and uses assemblage items in his fabrics. And we did it at this exhibit in Cambridge at a place called Honey Jones, and that was super interesting to see what is similar about our practices and things we're thinking about. I feel like everything I'm thinking about is more on a smaller scale in my community, like the objects in my home, waste, and that sort of thing, and he has much more of a global perspective from where he approaches his work; he has travelled abroad and lived in different places.
And I just thought that was super interesting. Yeah, I enjoyed that conversation a lot. And then I've been involved with a number of the shows.
Joana: Okay, so in your perspective, what is the significant improvement that being in a collective can give an artist? This collective, in specific or in general,
Sarah: Yeah, I just think, well, in general, I just feel like the choice to be an artist is kind of a crazy career choice, you know, so it's nice to be around a lot of other artists who are sort of doing the same thing. And then specifically with this group, it's nice to hear about their art and ecology and how they're sort of trying to work, you know, towards those goals. I feel like I've learned a lot from a number of the artists.
Joana: And do you feel that being involved with such, because the collective is quite big—I think 22 artists, if I'm not mistaken—it might grow. How is all of that? Being in such a big collective? You are part of the marketing team, so I presume there is a lot of work.
So can you tell us a bit about that aspect of being involved with so many people that are working within your themes and also having that aspect, that organizational aspect of being in the collective?
Sarah: Yeah, I was in like a cooperative gallery for a long time before this, so I am used to that format, and that one was like an insane amount of work. I was also on the marketing committee there, which is why I offered to do this. I mean, the only problem with it is that, since that's like a skill that I have, it's not that interesting. Once you start doing it, it's like "to, to, to, to, to," you know. There's just like a lot of steps you need to do, and in some ways, I volunteer for that job because I also have two younger kids, and you know, I can't always like go in and install a show at a certain time. This is something I can contribute to the group on my own when I have a moment.
But at the same time, I feel like it's just useful, so you feel like you're able to contribute something. And I'm also trying to be practical about the amount of time I can contribute. And talking to you makes me realize we haven't had a show in a while. I need to do some more; there's a lot I think I can do with Instagram. I'm good about it when the shows are outposting; what's nice is that I think we're slowing down the number of shows. Like we were exhibit, exhibit, exhibit. But we're slowing that down. So I feel like now there's more opportunity to like... I actually just spoke with one of the artists, Rebecca, yesterday because she does a lot of outdoor art, and I just had a conversation with her to learn more about the kinds of things she's doing and got my wheels turning. It sort of helps me generate more ideas, having more time in between shows.
Joana: So did you feel that it was a bit overwhelming to have show after show after show?
Sarah: No, I mean, not for me; honestly, it is overwhelming for Adriana and some of the people installing, and I guess the people who are co-curating. I feel like that was a lot of work for them, but I just feel like we can get a little deeper into the marketing and additional programming if we have more time.
Joana: Can you share any experiences or moments that you feel really stand out and show the mission and the impact of the collective?
Sarah: I just think that some of the exhibits that they've done have been in really good spaces. Like the last one in Cambridge, I think it has a good reach, like big windows, so everybody can kind of see it, even people who normally wouldn't go to an art gallery, and that was during, like, Earth Month. And I just feel like there are people who are able to come in and see the exhibits and learn the different information that was provided.
I think that, and since the exhibits are sort of being spread out in places where you wouldn't necessarily always have art, I think that is just valuable for the communities. Yeah. And people are coming in. And some of the workshops, I think, I didn't do them, but it seems like they were very successful with people coming in and making things and sort of learning while they were making. I think that seemed really cool.
Joana: Yeah. Adriana mentioned that they are thinking of expanding to schools and reaching out to kids, and to show that, I think that would be a great thing for all of you and for the kids to be involved in that.
Sarah: Yeah, and I'm super, I feel like that's kind of one of the reasons I joined the collective, and I'm sort of trying; I'm more of like a studio artist; I'm, you know, here, I'm working away by myself; sometimes I'm doing other unrelated things in the community, and then I bring objects back; and I'm just kind of in my little hole, so I actually am super interested in doing, making art with kids in the community and sort of trying to learn more about that from people like Michelle and Rebecca and some of the people who already do that.
Joana: In terms of collaboration, just one last question, because I was thinking about it in terms of collaborations: did you ever collaborate with one or two artists? You mentioned that you spoke with two of the artists, Rebecca and Jeffrey. Do you think of collaborating with them in terms of doing a work together, a performance, an installation together, or something like that?
Sarah: You know, I totally would, and I feel like I need to step out of my studio hole a little bit and do more of these things. I feel like I would really enjoy that. Like either working with another artist or, like I said, working with a school group. Yeah. I think I like to keep trying to be like," Well, I don't know what I would use for an armature if I made a sculpture with them or all these things", but I feel like I just need to start small and just jump in and do it. Yeah. I think that would be a lot of fun. Yeah.
Joana: So thank you for talking with me today. I know we don't have a lot of time; it's a short conversation, but I really appreciate you being here and sharing your experience with the collective.
Sarah: All right. Yeah. It was so nice to talk to you again.
Joana: Thank you.
If you wish to know more about the artist, go here.
Born in Hadley, NY, Sarah Meyers Brent received her B.S. from Skidmore College, her Post- Baccalaureate in Studio Art from Brandeis University, and her MFA in painting from the University of New Hampshire. The artist maintains a studio at Waltham Mills Artist Association in Waltham, MA.
Brent is known for her tactile paintings and sculptures assembled out of repurposed materials. She is part of the Boston area artist group “Inspiring Change for the Climate Change.” As a mother with two young boys, she also volunteers with the “Mothers Out Front” environmental activist group.
Represented by the Chase Young Gallery in Boston, Brent has exhibited widely. Her solo exhibition recently appeared at the Art Complex Musuem in Duxbury, MA, along with exhibits at the Mayor’s Gallery in Boston and Catamount Arts in Vermont. Reviews of her numerous exhibitions have appeared in Art New England, The Boston Globe, New England Home, Sculpture Magazine and other publications. Her work is in the permanent collections of Danforth Art Museum/School, Liquitex Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, and in numerous private collections
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