Interview: Sarah Esme Harrison
An interview with Sarah Esme Harrison, Artist behind our Silly Flowers Towel.
I thought about what kind of line and shape might transfer well onto terry cloth. At first, I was thinking about trying to represent one of my paintings on a towel, but we quickly realized that the marks I made in my painting wouldn't make sense on fabric. After that, I began to think about the kinds of drawing gestures that would remain visible throughout the weaving process. I think seeing a looping, swirly hand gesture is something that is easy for people to sympathetically feel in their own wrist and fingers, and then it's fun to see blown up big. It's also pleasing to see that kind of flowing movement snapped into a grid format. And I was lucky that everyone I worked with totally understood what I was going for!
I want to make more paintings. I just finished a show and now my studio is empty. I start my paintings outside, so for the next few months I'll be finding places out on Long Island that catch my eye or seem to say something to me that I can only understand when I begin painting. I just watched a YouTube video of Lois Dodd talking about painting and she said "I think painters are lucky because they see things." Of course it's not only painters that see things, and she added that, but I think she meant that it's fortunate to be in an emotional place where you're receptive to the subtle, expressive, or surprising aspect of something you're looking at. It takes a lot of support to be in that headspace--from yourself and from other people.
I wander around outside and look at things. If I feel stuck, I look at other people's work. Sometimes a museum is a good place to forget about your own drama, or at least remember how small it probably is. We talk a lot about understanding a piece of art, but as my boyfriend pointed out to me, a really good piece of art makes YOU feel understood.
The only ritual I really have for creativity is to just keep making things, even when it's frustrating. I do whatever I have to do to help me get started. Your artist is a person inside you who gets to be a diva and you have to NOT be a diva when you're helping her. :)
On a perfect day, I have everything I need -- paint and a panel and the right brushes, and I wander around outside and I see something and I get started and I stay in the flow for hours. There are other kinds of perfect days too--sometimes they happen when you see something fascinating in another person's work, or you go to a concert, or you read a book, or you see someone you haven't seen in a long time.
When I've been looking at a painting too long, I look at it in a mirror to help me see it with fresh eyes. Now I've gotten sentimental about which mirror I use, and I have one that was my nana's that I'm very fond of. I don't think she'd mind that there's paint on it now.
It's hard to choose! I love the Cedarwood in the Banya candle and the soap. Cedar reminds me of a chest of drawers that my mom kept her clothes in when I was little. I love the soap dish because it's beautiful, like a tiny museum, and it solves the very annoying problem of soapy water in the soap dish at the same time.