Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sarah Ciampa's "Omens and Accidents"

While there is certainly no lack of artistic talent in Eugene, I sometimes struggle to find art that moves me in a new direction. Art is about discovery. I want to be moved, but not in the staid choreography of some antiquated artistic waltz. I want head banging art. Art that puts the holy ghost in you; art exhibit as Pentecostal church complete with a soundtrack of tongues. Something that speaks for itself, something that actually has something to say. I'm an aesthetic person, I do love beauty, but not that which is only skin deep. I respond to art that has its own voice, and has a story to tell. Sara Ciampa's dark yet stunning canvases all seem to exist within their own unique fairy tale... or nightmare depending on the piece. Her work is the stuff of recurring dreams. 

(Sarah Ciampa, Elemental Prospectus, oil on canvas, 51"x40")

Needless to say her show, opening at Fenario on the 4th of July, ought not be missed. But just so you can get an idea of what we have in store, Sarah was nice enough to consent to an interview. Turns out she's not only a talented artist but also a great writer with an excellent sense of humor. 

Chloe Gallagher: Tell me a little bit about how yourself and how you got started as an artist.

Sarah Ciampa: About Me? - I'm 30ish, I'm from the East Coast, I came to Eugene randomly and settled here. I began any serious exploration of the arts while I was attending community college and living in a van down by the river and the railroad tracks. The van was parked in my friend's driveway, so it was also my painting studio- which got cramped, and cold- so after a year I moved into a non-wheeled home partly so I could have a place to keep all of my work. Really, I count going back to school at 23 as the time when I began to seriously study art, but I've always been interested in art and I've been making art, I just didn't set my sights on a "career" in art and start massively producing art until then. 

CG: How did the concept for "Omens and Accidents" develop?

SC: To be honest, I don't remember exactly how that happened- I know I loved the words and the way they sound- really, is happened a lot like how I make pieces in that I have a vision of what I want the show to be like -how I want it to feel, how I want it to come across and be experienced, what I want people to get from it, and what I want to "say." "Omens and Accidents" seems to sum up some of the duality-yet-complete-singularity-of-life stuff that I feel is always present in my work. It seems it's always present in life in general, and my work is about life in general. "Omens and Accidents" is also a great title for this show because this is my first solo gallery showing and I can guaruntee to you that it often feels like the only forces that got me to this point, have been omens and accidents. The way I paint is a very omen/accident oriented process, as well. 

CG: Have you received any good omens for the upcoming show?

SC: Yes. One thing is the timing. The show was supposed to be earlier in the spring, but an "accident" happened and it got postponed until mid summer, but now this accident is turning out to be very fortunate for me in a variety of ways. So, in my book, that's a type of good omen. If you look at it from the perspective of an omen, it's saying that something is on track, is connected, even if it didn't seem that way at first. 

CG: Do you have a favorite medium? 

SC: As of now its definitely oil paint- usually on canvas. I say "as of now" because that might change eventually, but right now I LOVE oil paint. And Galkyd. I love Galkyd, too.

CG: Galkyd, huh? Wow I'm going to have to look that one up. Do you listen to music while you paint? What kind of tunes inspire you?

SC: Bjork.
Bjork is absolutely first on the list. Yes, I listen to music most of the time while I paint, but not always. Bjork's new album Volta is unreal. Everything else that I listen to varies, but some of my favorites are also Bad Religion, Cibo Mato, the Creatures, Eliot Smith, Beck, the White Stripes, Ween, L7, The Dead Milkmen and a lot of mixes that are more broad in genre. 

CG: What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned about art and the artistic process?

SC: A lesson i've learned about art is that you can learn to "like" anything. Even if you don't like it, you can like it. Validity is due to all work, not just the stuff you personally enjoy. Variety is very, very important. As for the artistic process, I sincerely believe you can't skip any step in the process of learning whatever it is that you do, but you can burn through them really, really fast if you work hard enough. 

CG: What inspires you? Any particular artist, writers or educators who you really admire?

SC: Some artists that I admire: Dali, Kahlo, Warhol, Basquiat, various Dutch and Italian Renaissance masters, Van Gogh, Damion Hirst, O'Keefe, Jenny Seville, John Currin...
Some writers I admire: Kafka, Douglas Adams, Anne Rice, Maya Angelou, Forrest Carter...

(Sarah Ciampa, Transcendent Biology, oil on canvas, 27"x60")

CG: If you woke up in a live action version of Zelda, what kind of weapon would you arm yourself with?

SC: I didn't have a Nintendo. I played Frogger on Atari. Yeah - I was that kid.

CG: Read any good books lately?

SC: I'm currently reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." It's pretty good.

CG: What do you treat yourself to when you feel like you've finished a job well done?

SC: Sometimes its sushi. Sometimes it's rest. Sometimes it's just a pat on the back and getting to start the next thing!


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