On November 16th, Sarah Henderson showed her first solo exhibit, “Kaleidoscope”, at SEAD Gallery and Bookshop. The night was full of music and celebration. Sarah’s work spoke volumes and audiences were impressed with how expressive and colorful the pieces were. “Kaleidoscope” is a series of abstract paintings that evoke contemplation and curiosity. The colors are as bright and inviting as the artist’s personality. As the night went on, more and more people began to wonder where this girl gets her inspiration from. Putting aside busy schedules, I finally got the chance to interview Sarah to understand her work and her life as an artist. Here’s what we talked about:
SEAD: Where did your inspiration for space and the cosmos come from? Is this something you have always been interested in or just stumbled upon?
Sarah Henderson: I remember wanting to be the first astronaut to reach Saturn when I was in elementary school. I have always desired adventure and to explore things unknown. I think my desire to be an astronaut came from me wanting to see the beautiful planets from my text book up close. As an adult I watch a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson and am constantly mesmerized by not only the images I see, but the science of it all.
SEAD: Describe how you came to be an artist. What was your journey like? Was this something you know you’ve always wanted to do?
SH: I started painting as a hobby in high school, but I did not think of myself as an artist. Painting was like journaling, and when I did not have the word for what I was feeling choosing a color always made sense. Overtime painting became something I did compulsively without questioning its purpose. Eventually my walls were filled with my work, and when friends and family visited they would ask about them. This gave me a lot of confidence! Soon I started seeing myself as an artist, and the rest, as they say, is history.
SEAD: If your art could talk, what message would it say to the world?
SH: “Hello, come and sit down” and then silence. I want my work to pull people in immediately and then give them room to contemplate.
SEAD: Who is your favorite artist? And why?
SH: I have three, but Jackson Pollock’s influence is most often detected in my work. I thoroughly enjoy the boundlessness I see in his work. One of the most inspiring things for me was watching the footage Hans Namuth shot of Pollock painting in action. The films helped me to understand Pollock as an artist beyond what a biography can explain. Pollock narrates the films with setting and an explanation of his own style. Nowadays artists shoot videos with phones for social media, but the archival footage of Pollock was unprecedented. One of the reasons I decided to include a video with the Kaleidoscope exhibit was because of the understanding I received after watching Pollock.
SEAD: What do you find most attractive about colors and using them in general?
SH: Color is everywhere. Sports teams, national flags, and baby blankets all use colors to identify and differentiate. From the time we are children we are asked which color is our favorite. I like using color to communicate feelings. We all carry personal connotations with certain colors, but I like to try and change my audience’s mind about a color. Sometimes I use blue to communicate calmness and tranquility, but paired with yellows and pinks the color transforms into something cheerful and exciting.
SEAD: Do you ever have creative blocks, and if so how do you deal with them?
SH: I have creative blocks all the time but I paint anyway. Sometimes pushing through gets rid of the cobwebs and other times I can only paint for five minutes before I give up. Still though I paint just a little every day.
SEAD: Do you have any rituals or things you like to do before you begin a painting? Or perhaps while you are painting?
SH: Beforehand I really enjoy meditation which helps me relax and focus before I begin. While I paint I either listen to music, one of the podcasts I follow, or a book. Sometimes these ambiance choices infuse my work. For instance Jazzy 1 and 2 from the Kaleidoscope exhibit were named after listening to some sensational jazz music.
SEAD: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is aspiring to be an artist?
SH: Don’t give up. We live in an increasingly visual world, and there is a place for every artist. Just keep painting things that make you excited and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Sarah Henderson’s exhibit will be on display at the SEAD Gallery and Bookshop until January 13th. Come by anytime between 11-5:30 Tuesday-Saturday to experience the incredible texture, layers, and intense colors featured in “Kaleidoscope”. We will also be hosting a Meet & Greet with Sarah Henderson from 6:30-8 PM the evening of December 21st.