Meet Sarah Swift! Sarah is our former director and artist member of Hera Gallery. She is also the curator of our upcoming exhibition, Material Roots.
Material Roots is a group show, of women artists from New England, aimed to create consideration and dialogue over the functionality of design and its intersection with conceptually charged fine art. It intrigued me that often these two creative fields seemed so categorically separated. Fashion, jewelry, and even our home furnishings can send powerful messages that can challenge perceptions and create discourse, while still maintaining a great understanding for formal aesthetics. I have spent my life taking note of my phenomenally talented peers, and when the opportunity came along to curate a show for Hera, I realized this was my chance to highlight some of the women around me who have pushed the boundaries of their own creative practices.
These featured artists are fierce, supportive, intelligent, and incredibly insightful women that have taken traditional artisan crafting techniques and created powerfully charged contemporary work.
Finally, I love the interaction with the body that the exhibited pieces establish. A personally curated item of clothing or jewelry can be the most accessible way for many to explore identity, self, and even social and cultural understanding.
I was born and raised in rural Exeter, Rhode Island and was interested in art from a very young age. I was an only child, and had two working parents, so creativity and playing outdoors became my everyday pastimes. In school, I took every single available art class offered, sometimes convincing teachers to let me retake classes as “private study” to get in more “art hours”. “Artist” was my only answer when I was ever asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. In 2010 I moved to Brooklyn, New York and obtained a BFA in Painting at Pratt Institute of Art and Design. Art became a tool of meditative exploration and self expression. It allowed me temporary relief from the inevitable difficulties of young-adult life, and offered a way to reconnect with the world that I often felt “out of place” in. I exhibited throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan for several years before moving back to Rhode Island, and taking a job as the Gallery Director at Hera Gallery. My work has recently shifted from painting and printmaking to fiber arts and work using recycled materials. I realized quickly that the tactile quality of manipulating materials with my hands brought me pure joy. Currently I work as a freelance textile artist in Providence, and have been recently focusing on new ventures like curation and art / travel writing.
The Art Experience
I hope to bring my viewers mindful consideration about their individual places within the ever-changing cycles of life; Our everyday interactions that ripple through our community, our families, and our environment. I have always been fascinated by the interconnectedness of our planet, and hope to provide some insight and perhaps mental relief that we humans, plants and animals are all in this cycle together, all made of the same basic atomic “stuff” and all searching to find our place within it.
I grew up as close to nature as one can get; raised by two passionately curious Marine Biologists. The natural world became a constant visual and tactile stimulation for me as many days were spent playing outdoors, inside research labs, or pouring through my parents huge illustrated books on bioluminescence, coastal ponds, and local plant life. I also had the privilege of experiencing travel at a very early age; going to cities in Europe to see ancient ruins and art museums, and to Mexico to see weaving and ceramics. Art and creativity came fairly naturally to me, and with this organic visual imagery and inherent experimentation I grew up with, my studio practice was almost inevitable.
I had known of Hera while growing up in Rhode Island, but was truly unaware of the immense community and history of the organization until I came back to Rhode Island after finishing my degree. After being reintroduced to the Gallery in 2017, I immediately knew I needed to be a part of it in some way. The support and empowerment felt between members was indisputable, and I was moved by their mission to provide Gallery opportunities to young or emerging artists and community members, while still maintaining a very high level of professional quality artwork. It was truly a gift to be chosen to be their Gallery Director for some time, and I am honored to continue now as an artist for the Gallery.
To read more about Sarah and see more of her work, visit: https://www.heragallery.org/sarah-swift
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