The New Vanguard Artist Profile 4 – Sarah Dineen
4SEE puts a spotlight on young artists from the international art scene whom we deeply admire for their explosive talent and limitless creativity. We respect them even more for their tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds of fame and success in the hypercompetitive artworld. Their incomparable ability to let us share in feelings, emotions, ideas, issues, and concepts that count make us want to take a second and third look at their work. But it is their genuine passion for their art that comes through when you speak with these heavyweights of the art world in Berlin and New York—two of the cultural capitals of the world.
This artist profile “New Vanguard” was for the ART issue // published in September 2017.
“I believe aesthetic indulgence is more important than ever. If we lose sight of pleasure and everything that is good, then we’re really in trouble. We all need to carve out time to take a break from the chaos to rest our spirits so we can come back and be engaged with real purpose again.”
Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?
I did. My mother used to paint when I was little and I remember watching her very closely and eventually trying it for myself. I spent hours learning how to draw by copying photographs of people in magazines. I loved those hours of concentrated time making images from scratch. I knew the freedom of that alone time would always be an important part of my life.
Do you find the artworld cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?
Yes, it can be cutthroat. It takes some vigilance to not get bogged down by it. But what takes the edge off for me is surrounding myself with artist friends I can have a dialog with and feel supported by. We are all in this together and the more we can support each other, the better off we are. I think kindness and generosity go a long way. That’s not to say that a bit of competition isn’t a good thing. It is. It takes endurance but it keeps me striving to make the best work I can make.
What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
I have never wavered from my commitment to logging in studio time no matter what my circumstances have been. Life can easily get in the way but I have been somewhat disciplined in making the production of my work my first priority.
Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?
This is a question I have been thinking a lot about lately. Here in the US, our government seems to be falling apart daily and its very distressing. Even though my work isn’t overtly political, the experience of this moment in time is still embedded within the material and energy the work is made with. Because things are so worrisome and there is no break from the chaos unraveling before us, I believe aesthetic indulgence is more important than ever. If we lose sight of pleasure and everything that is good, then we’re really in trouble. We all need to carve out time to take a break from the chaos to rest our spirits so we can come back to the political conversation and be engaged with real purpose again. If that means making or looking at art that is not a literal depiction of the political moment then I’m happy to be a part of that because I strongly believe its just as important.
If not politics, then what are the key sources of inspiration for you?
Certain Dark Things was born from Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII and its themes of secrecy, love and darkness. As the series has evolved it has become more about the experience of being in a body and the degrees to which we conceal and reveal ourselves to each other and the world. The spheres and vessel shapes have become stand-ins for the self, that darker part of ourselves we do not readily or sometimes ever reveal. I love the idea that we all have this place in us that only we have access to.
What is it like to live/work in New York City?
It’s pretty amazing. My studio is right outside of Times Square now so if I need a break from
the studio, galleries and museums are just a short train ride in any direction. My favorite thing
about being here is whenever I need a break from my own work I can take a couple hours to
go see the work of some of my favorite artists and return refreshed and inspired.
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?
For the next year, eight of my paintings can be seen upon request at Direktorenhaus and its offshoot Johanssen Gallery in Berlin. Right now, I’m in full production mode doing long days in the studio and having some exciting studio visits. The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts where my studio is will be open to the public for our annual Open Studio event on the 19th, 20th and 21st of October 2017. Come visit!
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your artwork and at what scale?
I see the work expanding in size. Its already quite large but I would like to see it grow to fill cavernous commercial spaces I see around the city. I would like to do more installations too. Last year I installed sixteen of the Certain Dark Things paintings in Saint Paul the Apostle Church in Manhattan. That part of the series consists of paintings all the same size depicting the same form. I’m interested in the idea of multiples interacting with the repetition found in architecture. It was an amazing experience to transform an historical sacred space like that. I also see the shapes that appear in the paintings eventually being made into large-scale steel sculpture, indoor and outdoor.