Conversations with the Inspiring Sarah Alexander
Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Alexander.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I suppose my story began as my being an introverted child with a vivid and overactive imagination. The compulsion to channel this curiosity through art-making has been with me as far back as I can remember. It often got me into trouble at school since all I wanted to do was draw and daydream.
It is that very same curiosity that has taken me to where I am today. I take in my surroundings, observing, taking mental notes, then process those snippets of thoughts throughout my work. I’ve found a lifestyle and a career doing exactly what got me into trouble as a child. My drawings and paintings are how I attempt to communicate what I see and feel.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? Any advice for young women who are just starting out?
Did things always go smoothly for me? No. There was a lot of fear and insecurity that held me back in early adulthood. I started my family young, and though I always dabbled and had a studio, I put my art career on the back burner while I raised my three children. My intention was to go back to school and dive in once my kids were a little older. Things dont always go as planned, and I became ill with Graves Disease, and suffered multiple complications with my eyesight. I had Radiation therapy, and eleven eye operations. During my 30’s and 40’s I lost a lot of years. I did a lot of growing during that time, and though my sight wasn’t great, I dove into my art-making wholeheartedly.
Advice for young women? Don’t be afraid, and work harder than you thought was possible. Challenge yourself to try things, even if it scares the crap out of you. Don’t get caught up in worrying about what people think of you. Read, look at lots of art, and keep your mind open.
Tell us more about your work. What else should we know?
I am a contemporary mixed media artist with an emphasis on watercolor and drawing using unconventional surfaces and techniques. My work is highly detailed, layered, and fluid. I work with multiple materials and mediums, with a focus on drawing and painting. I create through a stream of consciousness, and the resulting depictions appear gravity-defying. Most recently I have started to experiment with Steel. I like to approach the same subject using differing materials to see how it transforms the narrative of the subject. A grassy seed ball drawn with pen and ink or painted in watercolor, feel very different when “drawn” with steel.
I’m most proud of my ability to adapt to unexpected challenges. That applies to my teaching practice (working with middle school aged artists, and adults) at Hopkinton Center For the Arts, Exhibits, and to my studio practice.
What sets you apart from others?
That’s a tough one. Maybe that I’m always trying new things, while staying true to my own voice. I’d have to say my support system is pretty amazing. My daughter Elizabeth is a professional artist (she teaches at UNC School of the Arts and we consult each other on our various projects often) , my husband is incredibly supportive (he’s currently teaching me how to work with steel), and my other two children (both also very creative humans) are extremely proud of me. The artist communities at Fountain Street Gallery and coworkers and students at Hopkinton Center for the Arts are always encouraging me.
It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I’m an avid reader, and often listen to Audible books while I work on a drawing. Currently I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s new book “Killing Commendatore”. I love surreal fiction, and I find Murakami’s use of metaphors and winding indirect storylines very appealing. David Lynch is also someone I love to watch, think about, and analyze. I like it when things don’t get wrapped up neatly and leave you with more questions. There are some great Twin Peaks podcasts out there, “Diane”, “Twin Peaks Unwrapped”, Damn Fine Podcast”. Patti Smith is another one I read often, I grew up listening to her music, and now I’m loving her books and poetry (she’s a true badass). I listen to things like “Crimetown”, “Snap Judgment”, “The Moth”, “Pod Save America”, “Here’s the Thing”, “S-Town”, and good old “This American life”.
Last year, I read approximately 44 books while working on a three person exhibit at Fountain Street Galleries. I read a lot about dreams, dream states, and liminal space.
I suppose I like these books about alternative realities because it doesn’t seem real that the current state of things in our country is not some sort of collective bad dream.