Interview by J Thomas Agnew
Getting lost in the making of art is bliss. Whether it’s basing your creation on present day matters, a future you let your mind run wild with, or nostalgic moments that pull at something important to you, it’s essential to create whatever you see fit. Sarah Kim is learning that about herself and her career. In this interview she writes on what she’s learned after school, how nostalgia plays a role in her art, and more.
Having gone through the School of Art at CMU, what is the most important art lesson you have learned after that experience?
I think it’s got to be learning how to be gentle with yourself. I know that kind of sounds cheesy but I’ve been learning how to do that recently, especially when it comes to making art. It is making my relationship with myself and what I make healthier and helped me center joy in my practice. Not comparing myself to other creatives, not telling myself that I am not doing enough, etc. In school, I thought doing more was always better and that resulted in feeling like I’m not actually doing more than I should. It’s really easy to get that way in anything in life I think but we are all doing our best so why beat ourselves for it.
What are some things you have picked up on your own as you have started to build your career?
Working with limited resources is something I’ve picked up and gotten used to in the past couple years. I mainly work with oil pastel, acrylic paint, and spray paint now. Although it’d be great for me to expand and experiment with different materials, it has been really helpful in terms of finance but also challenging myself to be creative with what I’ve got. And because I work with simple materials, it has been fun to try as many different things I can with each of those materials. I also started to embrace mistakes I make during the process. I think not hiding that is a small proof that I’m mainly having fun making these drawings and less worried about perfection.
When you saw the opportunities to connect with residencies in Pittsburgh, what did you have in mind that you wanted to do or learn?
Meeting people! I didn’t try at all to be outside of campus, meet people, and learn more about different art organizations in Pittsburgh. A year after graduating was when COVID lockdown happened and that made my already limited circle even more small. I craved being out there, like many of us did, and to meet other creatives. I also thought residency opportunities will be a great way for me to take my baby steps into being more involved in the community and meet all the wonderful people who are making a big difference in the Pittsburgh art community.
What do you think your art says about your creativity?
Haha not sure how to answer this question, but I think my art says a lot about how much I have fun drawing. When people see my art and says that it’s fun or it reminded them of something from their childhood, I consider that as a great compliment. I hope some people also see my drawing and feel inspired to have fun as well.
Does nostalgia play a heavy role in what you create?
Yes, always! Some of my recent drawings were an ode to my favorite Asian American woman characters from movies growing up so it was quite directly related to nostalgia. It was my first attempt at making amends with my past through drawing and it’s something I’m interested in doing further. But I think even in school, memory was a big theme in my work. I made a series of drawings based off of notes I took of people I saw when I walked around and my drawings became a compilation of just memories of strangers. I think my practice will always have something to do with nostalgia.
What is something you have yet to experience in your career that you’re looking forward to in the future?
I hope to teach in the future! I had really wonderful professors in college and I think that influenced me to want to teach one day.
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