The featured artist in our café for the month of March is Sarah Hart Munro, a Vermont artist living in Montpelier with her family. She has exhibited nationally as well as being represented at many galleries in her home state. Sarah is well known for her invention of “Silk Scapes,” prints of silk paintings that go in the window, while she is also an artist of acrylic, watercolor, oil and collaged mediums. Sarah studied Oil Painting with the late James Gahagan, from the Hans Hoffman abstract expressionist colorist era, while a student at Goddard College, where she received her BA in ‘77. Sarah also attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston MA. We spoke with Sarah about her variety of media and inspirations.
At what age did you start creating art? What was the original impetus or inspiration?
My dog slept with me every night, she had babies on my bed when I was six years old, and I witnessed the birth of eight puppies. The next day, I wanted to paint the event. I made a big brown and red and black blob on my paper, and so it began.
What medium did you start with?
I attended a Waldorf school in 6, 7 and 8th grade. We had an hour at the end of the day for watercolor class. I absolutely loved that medium with good paper soaked in water.
Of the different media you have worked in, what has been your favorite? Why?
This is a difficult question. These days, I consider myself a mixed media collage artist. I experience endless possibilities for synthesis in this medium. This is what I like best right now!
What exactly are “Silk Scapes”? How did they come about, what inspired them?
I was a silk painter and, while selling my piece’s wholesale and retail, I started to get carpal tunnel in my wrist and could not continue to work that way. I am big into the concept of a power greater within me, so I asked for help. I discovered that using a transparent print with silk, sandwiched between glass, offered a wonderful reproduction of my work and saved my wrists. I continue to make new images and have sold them for many years at the Hunger Mountain Co-op.
What led you to start working with acrylic paper collage?
Acrylics lend themselves to fast work, good cover, excellent opulence and nice overlay of color with scratched textural patterns. The beauty of the blended colors is so excellent using watercolor, I like to put watercolor on top of acrylic to add that extra dimension. Metallic foils capture light with patterns that augment and inform the piece. Oil pastels with watercolor make some of the best juxtaposition textures.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “works of living imagery”?
The choices in how to capture an image are endless. Finding the textures, colors, and patterns that represent my vision of experience is playful and fun. The piece takes on a life of its own, living imagery, it then becomes an entirely new interpretation of the world, for the world.
What inspires or drives you the most as an artist today?
I have had many jobs and used many other skill sets, but artistic expression is the most valuable, most compelling way of being in this world. I am a singer as well as a visual artist. Much of my life, I have been able to put aside art time, but now art time takes the lead. People are starting to collect my work, and that is exciting and inspiring.
Does your work have any overarching theme that runs through all of your pieces?
I would say that I am a colorist. When you know my art, it will become clear that color relations are an overarching theme.
What do you hope the viewer gets out of your work?
I am hoping that the pieces will excite the observer and will vibrate with emotion to create a connection. In the three new winter pieces, and seven from the tropics, one can notice that the tones and textures are capturing the landscape of my experiences. I have written a few words that will go with each piece, which might help the viewer gain a deeper insight into my artistry.