Joya: AiR / Sarah Sagarin / New York City USA


My process based works are constructed through indirect layers of mark making, automatic drawing, and painting. Working this way, intentionally unintentionally, allows for the underlying concept to be born and slowly emerge over time. My paintings are not about the process, rather the structure of the process affords me the freedom to explore and have a back and forth conversation with each painting, unburdened by preliminary decision making over content. My work over the past few years has revealed itself to be influenced by such varied sources as the Syrian migrant crisis, Mad Men, the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, and 2016 US Presidential election.

While at Joya I have been profoundly affected by the beauty, isolation, and dramatic high desert landscape. Living off the grid, with limited water and resources has forced me to confront the realities of climate change and its growing impact on individuals and communities. It has affected how I think about my my own needs and my anxiety about the future. I am curious to see how this influence will reveal itself in my work in the coming months.

A few days after arriving at Joya, I was standing in the kitchen trying to explain to Donna (the brilliant, beautiful co-creator of this surreal artist’s world in the southern mountains of Spain) how I was feeling now that I had had a bit of time to adjust to my new surroundings. I had recovered from my jet lag, yet there lingered an odd feeling of co-existing with myself which I couldn’t quite put into words. “It’s like you’ve gone sideways”, she offered. That was exactly it. It was me, standing in the kitchen, but just beside myself. This new me was without all the constructs that define my daily life in New York. In this place, off the grid, miles from the closest town, none of my multitudes of daily “needs” could be met. The support and stress of constant contact with friends and family was gone. The mountain of ice I use each day, for the frosty cold beverages I absolutely must have, is not to be had here. I was without NPR yammering at me in my studio all day with endless news and information to be processed, and without the 250 options of what to have for lunch, all in the deli right downstairs. Yet somehow I missed none of it and wanted for nothing. There was an enormous sense of freedom in stepping outside all these things, in stripping life down to its bare essentials and sorting through the difference between needs and wants. In truth, my needs were met here in abundance. I was well fed, had all the water I needed (though through conscious conservation I used a small fraction of what I used at home), and I was surrounded by aesthetic beauty everywhere I looked, from the stunning landscape, to the beautifully designed living and work spaces of the house. I had time and solitude for work, with no distractions, and companionship around the dinner table at the end of each day. I was happy.