Artist Interview: Sarah Walsh
Sarah Walsh’s work is about the rejection of apathy and irony that is so prevalent in our current society, and is interested in finding ground to stand on amid the modern/postmodern dichotomy. Walsh names this elusive space the internal center or centers. When spending time with Walsh and her work one immediately experiences the connection to the spaces she creates. Although not familiar, Walsh’s handling of paint creates a sense of emotion and place that leaves viewers with a sense of sentimentality. Walsh’s new work will be on view this Sunday night at CSU Long Beach in the Gustav Galleries. This new series of paintings are composites of places Walsh has traveled, lived, and the environment around long beach and Los Angeles. In this new work Walsh conveys a sense of aloneness that is difficult to access living in urban spaces. Difficult subject matter yes, but Walsh invites us through her paintings to surrender to the present moment, and though at first glance the landscape may seem dark, after a closer viewing one understands Walsh has created something that is both expressive and spiritually optimistic.
How did you start making art?/Why do you make art?
I started making art about 6 years ago. I was studying philosophy and I hit a point where it was time to decide to pursue it seriously or ﬁnd something else to do. I took a life drawing class in school just for fun and something about art-making fit, so I switched to drawing and painting. I never questioned it. Almost immediately, it became the only thing I could imagine doing. The ego deﬂation that happens when you try to make something visual, to express a feeling or an idea and put it in the world to see is essential for my ability to engage with people. I haven’t found anything sustainable that does that for me or gives me the same feeling.
How did this new series of work you will be showing at CSULB initially come about?
I became interested in different spaces or states of being and how physical location affects us emotionally and psychically. Many people are have limited access to open spaces especially where I live in Long Beach. It’s very hard to get away. I feel that a lot of people can spend their whole lives going from house to car to work and never feel like they can move freely. These themes and how they play out in my work is very much in process and probably will be for a while. I started painting landscapes when I was traveling the East Coast, the environment is very different from Southern California and I wanted to express that total change in perception that comes after you have spent a few weeks in a rural area and that deep sense of aloneness that arises without the fear of being alone. I am in interested in movement and experience and how that changes perception. I think time is a metaphor for that; time is more about room to create, having so much more to do with action than anything else. These paintings represent the space within which an action or a series of actions are taking place. They are the evidence of an event, like a burn mark.
How would you describe your subject matter? Do certain themes occur/reoccur in your work?
Without the process of making a painting I don’t think I would be able to make sense out of the things that I see happening around me or that have happened to me. Obviously nature and having limited access to open unregulated spaces is a reoccurring theme. And loss. I think everyone experiences those feelings.
What do you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work and find inspiration?
I read a lot of critical/ cultural theory, various newspapers and ﬁnd a lot of inspiration there. I’m pretty romantic and I like a good story. Art criticism and magazines are always in rotation. As far as music is concerned I get sort of stuck on one or two albums for a while, lately “Its a Blitz” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” I like to listen to things I’m familiar with while I’m painting so I can choose to pay attention or not. William Fowler Collins is great. And Basinski.
How can people find your work? Where would we find you on social media?
At the moment I am in the process of building a website so watch for that. I’m on FB but I rarely check it. I’m guilty of obsessive Instagram checking and most of my new work ends up there so that’s a good way to check stuff out and contact me – if you don’t mind looking at forty pictures of my dog.
Sarah’s show opens this Sunday 9-22-13 from 5-7pm at the Gustav Galleries at CSU Long Beach.