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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

We believe in connecting directly with the artists and designers.

Sarah E. Brook

Relief Sculptures

Photographic Prints

About Sarah E. Brook
Sarah's arid sculptures and installations often combine mixed media textures such as sand paper, which fearlessly emerge from slashed canvases. Juxtaposed with subtle gradient washes, Sarah's relief sculptures explore the relationship between identity and the physicality of place. Her work has broken away from the wall and into exterior sculptures where nature influences how her work is viewed.

Native to Reno Nevada, Sarah's art references the vastness of the high-desert where she was raised. Her work confronts our internalization of space both physically and psychologically allowing for us to reconsider how we conform to our own normative standards. Sarah... read more
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In conversation with Sarah E. Brook

Erin: What are you curious about?

Sarah: I'm curious about what's just underneath the surface of our lived experience. I'm curious about how that can be made more real, and what is required to strip away the protective (but also numbing) layers of routine and unconscious movement through our lives. I'm curious about how bodies and senses and perception can help align us with a more present experience. I'm curious about gender as an expression of self, as a way to ground the body in space, and whether gender can be both socially constructed and innate, as in part of that underneath. I'm curious about what is inherent to the experience of being human and what is socially constructed.

Erin: Describe your art and describe your process.

Sarah: My work deals with the relationship between identity and the physicality of place, with an emphasis on expanse as a transformative mechanism. I'm always thinking about how to create an opportunity for the viewer to engage with expanse, whether it's literal, physical, perceptual, psychological, visual. Color gradients and transparency are two tools I'm using a lot right now to convey spaciousness. Acrylic washes on canvas, spray paint on fiberglass mesh and plexiglass are some primary materials.

From, Site-specific installation at The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Snug Harbor, NY. Acrylic and dry pigment on canvas, 228" x 168" x 36", 2016

I'm also working on a new series of indoor installations and outdoor sculptures layering light-permeable materials (poplin, silkscreen, mesh, canvas, plexiglass) in order to impact their levels of opacity and transparency. It's a very direct way to create opportunities for viewers to enter into the work--the piece can be seen and experienced very differently depending on where a viewer positions themselves.

Lines For An Easter, poplin, plastic tubing and string, dimensions variable, 2017

Erin: How has nostalgia from growing up out west been reflected in your art?

Sarah: I wouldn't quite call it nostalgia. It's more that growing up in Nevada formed my base context for relating to space, which is a big part of what drives my work. Growing up there meant that my formative experience of place was the sense of being surrounded by a continually present vastness. I internalized that physical and metaphysical orientation to space, to the self in space. I also find a lot of inspiration in asocial contexts (like the desert), places where an individual can be outside any obvious societal influences. Those moments can offer opportunities to re-experience the self, and perhaps restructure normative narratives that are limiting to the self.

Erin: During your recent residency in Oregon you photographed a site specific installation. Tell us about this experience.

Sarah: That was a magical time! The residency was on the edge of a playa, which I learned is the geological term for a dry lake bed. I got to look out into and walk out into this vastness anytime I wanted to. I had known I wanted to do something with light-permeability, and brought along several materials to try. The silkscreen really held and transformed the light most strikingly. I was on residency during a particularly stormy couple of weeks, so the light was constantly changing, along with the moisture on the playa and the texture of the earth--I wanted to photograph the installation in as many different expressions of that landscape as possible. I had my sculptures and a packed bag at my studio door, and would watch for the sun to break through the clouds. When those moments came I would grab everything and run with the sculptures out onto the playa to set up the shot.

POS Series, wood and silkscreen installation, Playa, Summer Lake, Oregon, December 2016

Erin:  You have some exciting outdoor installations coming up. Whats involved?

Sarah: Yes, I'm very excited to be creating work on a larger scale! In the spring and summer of 2018 I'll be installing two outdoor sculptures, one in Riverside Park (duration 1 year) and the other in Crystal Park (permanent), a new sculpture park in upstate NY. Both will utilize light-permeable materials, and create opportunities for viewers to interact with the work by adjusting their position relative to the sun and the overlapping panels. The sculptures will be fairly tall, around 9 feet, and aligned so they have a relationship with the sun and the sky. The Riverside Park piece will also contain a bench within its structure, so viewers will have multiple ways to enter into the work.

Open Shelter, a site-specific installation in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, acrylic and dry pigment on canvas, new and reclaimed wood, sandpaper, 16' x 12' x 8', Fall, 2016

Erin: What is the most important thing you learned and from whom?

Sarah: I'd say it's learning (from many teachers) about the human capacity for spiritual understanding and transcendent experience--throughout history, across traditions, regardless of any kind of educational or class privilege. It gets back to the first question you asked, about curiosity--I love learning about people's experiences accessing what's underneath the surface of everyday existence. Life makes more sense to me knowing that kind of transformed perception and understanding is possible, and universally accessible.

Rise Early, Know This, Site-specific installation at The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor, NY. Canvas, sandpaper, wood, twine, metal, acrylic and dry pigment, 96" x 360" x 12", 2016

Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be with and what would it look like?

Sarah: The artists of the Land Arts movement and Light and Space movement, specifically Robert Irwin, Nancy Holt, Doug Wheeler, James Turrell. I'd love the opportunity to create something on a much larger scale. I also recently saw Laurie Anderson's virtual reality piece, "The Chalkroom," at MASS MoCA and was utterly blown away by how good it felt to experience the self and surrounding space as integrated and connected. It got me thinking about a multimedia collaboration with VR.

Erin: If you had one superpower what would it be?

Sarah: Teleporting, or the ability to be in multiple places at the same time. I always want to be in more than one place!