IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation- Sarah Perry

IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation
Darlene Campbell, Kenny Harris, F. Scott Hess, Ira Korman, Judy Nimtz, Sarah Perry, Robert Schultz & Peter Zokosky

July 7 – August 27, 2016
Opening Reception: July 7, 2016: 6 – 8 pm

Method: Degrees of Separation, the second of three IDENTITY exhibitions, highlights the art process with a special appreciation of historical methods within a voice of haptic ways of seeing. The featured artists come from various points of view—conceptually, pictorially, and aesthetically—yet collectively they share a deep dedication to creating artwork by way of a traditional method. In curator Eleana Del Rio’s words “Tradition by way of ‘method’ – stated loosely – is the exhibition’s topic.”

Artist interview #44: Sarah Perry

perry studio

1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
I’ve made 6 studios across Southern California, so I’ve fine-tuned what is my optimal working space. A large double window with a long work table below it. Thousands of electrical outlets including 220 for welding. At least 600 square feet with an industrial belt sander and band saw, a CD player for music and books on tape and doors that open onto a natural setting. This studio would be attached to a house which would contain a good man and two cats. Above all, it would be free from crime and manmade noise – freeways, car stereos, gun fire, lawn mowers, etc. If someone would have told me earlier in my life that I would indeed have this scenario in my future, I would have called them nasty names for torturing me. It’s still hard for me to believe what I see when I open my eyes in the morning.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
The prime motivator for getting me into the studio is being able to get involved with a sculpture. Usually I get up early, feed as many animals as I can, then slip into the studio without even thinking about it. Or even changing into my work clothes! I have to yank myself away to shower and do chores. Then hopefully, I get to return and go for a deep swim with the piece. I’m frequently an obsessive worker, spending 16 hour days for weeks at a time then stopping to do house repairs or go on a tree planting jag.

3. What is your preferred medium?  Do you work on one project at a time or several?
The idea for the piece dictates the medium- anything from truck tires to cellophane. I find working with disparate materials challenging and refreshing, although when I return to sculpting with bones it feels like coming home.

Most of the time I work on one piece until completion. Space is a limitation and having two pieces going simultaneously covers too many surfaces. Occasionally the physical demands of a particular work can be overwhelming and I have no choice but to sit down and do something different. Especially if one piece takes a year or more to birth.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
Reading is essential for me. I tend to vacillate between literature by authors like George Saunders and Louise Erdrich to natural history (with a smattering of poetry and Sci-Fi). I’m also inspired to understand the neighborhood creatures. I have a fine relationship with a family of ravens that tell me all kinds of things. One call is a warning for rattlers, another for hawks and a quite different one for bobcats. We call back and forth through the day, and I believe that I speak raven and roadrunner as often as English. I am admittedly going feral.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
There could hardly be a longer tradition in art making than carving, burning or drawing on bone. I list the Inuit as one of my favorite influences. But I will use whatever approach is necessary. If I need to make bees for a piece, I will take the time to figure out how to do it so that it’s believable and archival.

Most everything I do is hands-on and personal. Although I use electric tools, they’re not particularly high-tech. No computers, I-Pads, replicator machines, video equipment or mass-scale interacting robotic mind feeds are necessary for my work. A thinking brain, two hands and eyes and a commitment to a piece, however long it takes or demanding it is, is a tradition I hold to. There is of course plenty of room for different approaches in this wild art world.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Method- Degrees of Separation, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
The seed for the bee wall socket series was planted when I returned to an abandoned house off the 14 freeway. I had been there several times over the years, collecting owl cough balls for their tiny bones to use in sculptures. This time, a few years had passed and the place was folding in on itself. One white carpeted room remained intact. The ceiling, walls and floor were covered with long, graceful arcs of crimson blood from IV users. Within the walls I could hear a massive bee hive. Something ‘else’ had taken hold.

I’m drawn to what is implied, hidden beneath the surface yet full of significance- oblique warnings from the unconscious; the smoldering wall socket harboring bees, the ancient eyes~behind your eyes. How do we reconcile our inherent contradictions; fear/empathy, love of the world/ loss of it. Look to the titles for a clue into a piece and if you have a moment, come wander in.

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