October 22, 2015

10/21/15 – Sarah Wagner: Total Package

Artist: Sarah Wagner

Location: Her home studio


SW & SRS – Tea, homemade garden potatoes au gratin, brownies (PERFECT MEAL)

So, it’s not that I don’t have friends. Lots of friends, great friends. But I’ll be honest, I tend to compartmentalize a little bit, so I have friends that I do specific things with, like travel, or shop, or go to art shows…but it’s hard to find that one friend with whom I can talk about sewing, but also talk about lasers. Until now. Sarah Wagner is so incredibly on my wavelength of utilizing high-tech tools (like laser-cutters and 3D printers) in the service of analog technologies (like weaving and sewing) to create works that are as natural and complex as the woman herself. We talked about EVERYTHING.

Speaking broadly, Sarah is concerned with privacy and with politics (and the politics of privacy), and her work tends to be rooted in the political. But recently she’s made a turn inwards, and some of her (top-secret) work currently in development really shows an integration of personal issues and viewpoint. Although, as we discussed, it is a little ridiculous to think that as artists, we are ever presenting work that is unbiased by our personal perspective. People talk about this with my arts writing a great deal–that I don’t feel the need to interject a ton of my own narrative into the piece (unlike here with BWTA, which is basically all I do). Of course I don’t–I am writing the piece. My voice is already there.

So when Sarah says her previous work is less personal, I can’t help but think of Yard Zone at Popps Packing last year, wherein she replicated her entire Banglatown neighborhood in manila folder miniature, then populates this Lilliputian wonderland with pheasants and a feral dog, rendered in her trademark fabric-skins over precisely laser-cut armatures. Sounds pretty personal to me–and yet, universal in a way that really offers something for anyone walking into the gallery. That’s kind of my measure of success, when it comes to art. Here’s a couple pictures from that show:



Sarah’s new work is pushing even further at the edges of her interests. We talked a lot about garment-making, the politics of dressing oneself, and how that interacts with Feminism and cultural assimilation. We talked about lasers we have known, and those we want to buy (Sarah used to teach the laser class at Tech Shop; if you could see my eyes right now they would be in the shape of hearts). We played show-and-tell with fabrics. I have not told her, but I hope she will be my new best friend forever.

More to come, once Sarah’s ready to go public with some of the amazing work she has cooking. Meanwhile, blaze on, laser girl!

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