Amazing moms of Sunnyside school: Part 3) Sarah Nordean

In my final interview with the “amazing moms of Sunnyside, plague ”  I spoke with Sarah Nordean an ACAD 2009 graduate of painting. Sarah recently earned herself another milestone in her artistic endeavours by graduating from emily carr’s  MA program; Congratulations Sarah!

1) In your work Ticks, you record the amount of time that it took to complete, with textile materials there is also a laborious element that becomes part  of the narrative. Is this time spent with your material an important part of your process?
Although I do not usually make this known about the work, Ticks is a direct result of motherhood. I developed this project as a way of dealing with time constraints. As a loner, I am energized through time spent by myself. Before starting a family, I would spend hours at a time making art, thinking, and researching. I would often be in the studios at ACAD until closing. Now, as a mother of two young children, part of my art practice is dedicated to carving out moments of aloneness or focus, however short. These moments have become routinized and ritualized. The restrictions of daily life dictate the times that I may spend alone, and as such, I have come to live a somewhat regimented life. The very early morning before my family wakes, brief moments during the day, or the evenings when they go to sleep are the times when I walk, write, read and make art. These moments are not long, and because of this I have made a habit of taking and using every second that is available, and found ways to spend this time productively. Ticks shows how my practice has evolved to include ways of working that consider the allotment of time, and allows an immediate engagement with process, like turning a switch or pressing a button. On, then off.
I can imagine that some aspects of a fibre practice could work the same way, methods where it is possible to walk away and come back to the work without compromising it.
As far as the time spent with the material being an important part of the process. Absolutely. I wanted to repeat a tiny inconsequential mark over and over as a way to infuse it with a kind of generated importance. A boring mark using cheap ink on cheap paper – I am interested in what happens when the mundane is treated as monumental, and the ideas of rhythm, labour and obsession that are related to this. I definitely see a relationship with textile arts, and think my tick could be seen as a stitch.
I find the work of Jolie Bird to be so inspiring in this respect. I could stare at her wrapped objects forever imagining every turn of the thread. I also love Germaine Koh’s Knitwork that has been accumulating for the last 22 years!
2) Now that graduation is upon you, what are your future art plans?
Now I want to be an artist! Like a real one. I have just started calling myself one, and I almost don’t feel like an impostor when I say it. I have one kid in school and my youngest will be there soon, and I can’t wait to spend more time in my studio. I also would like to get an art related job, as being in the studio and only emerging to interact with children might make me a bit crazy. I really like to interact with other adults and occasionally wear pantyhose. I would love to work for an arts organization, a museum, an artist-run centre, or a college. I was a teacher in one of my previous lives, and I would really like to teach again in a post-secondary setting. I will need to strengthen my art practice before that happens, though. In the meantime, I am applying for everything.
3) If you could give your younger self some art advice, what would it be?
Maybe put in a minimal amount of effort in trying to get your artwork seen by people. Why not apply for something? Figure out what an artist needs to do.
Expose yourself to more CONTEMPORARY art, not just art history. (I think this would have made being a part of the art world seem like a possibility, something that people actually did)
Go to a dedicated art school like ACAD, and not to the art program in a larger university. (I have done both, and the experiences at ACAD and Emily Carr have been far superior to a large university program. In fact, I think this could have addressed the above two issues of knowing what an artist needs to do, and for it even to seem like a possibility.)
This is a tough one, but think about your concept as on the same level as your technique. It is not enough for me now to just make something pretty.
 And finally, make more and fail more. Failure has been such a key to any of the success (however minor) that I have experienced.
 (Of course, my younger self would never have listened to anyone giving her advice.
If you’d like to see more of this artists work I’ve provided a link to her website here SarahNordean
A special thank you again to Sarah, Janine and Laura for taking the time out of their very busy lives to patiently answer my questions. This has been a rewarding and inspiring experience.
-Karin McGinn