Meet

Sarah Ingraham

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I grew up in Maine and currently live in Brooklyn, New York.
What necessities do you require when making your art (radio, specific paintbrushes)?
Coffee, a good podcast or audiobook, and total solitude.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Finding a space with good natural light to work, especially in New York. Also, getting started, and then once I do, remembering to stop for breaks.
How do you choose your materials?
A big part of my practice is collected objects. My studio is filled with almost every kind of fake flower you can imagine. I like to bend and twist them around, with a little chaotic flare, to get just the right kind of arch in the stem. Real flowers are great but not very sustainable. Also, if I really need to see how something is put together, I go to my pile of botanical books. For the base of these arrangements, I have several antique pots that I always come back to for inspiration. Much of my free time is spent hunting thrift shops and the internet for more.

What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
I have this vintage vase that’s a mix of orange, yellow, blue, and white, a combination that I would never have considered, and it’s gorgeous. It depicts scenes of the forest with frolicking lions. I love how big it is, and also that it was once totally shattered but the person who owned it before me took the time to put the whole thing back together.
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
My grandmother would take me to the Portland Museum of Art as a child, and I remember seeing Dahlov Ipcar’s Blue Savannah. This painting was just so vibrant and alive. The only real reference I had prior to that was Andrew Wyeth, whose work was hung all over my parent’s house. I would go back to Ipcar’s work a lot in my early years of making.
Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? Whose is it?
Yes! I have one from Wylie Garcia, and two from Henry Murphy hanging in my apartment. I know both painters from my time in Vermont.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My early work was informed by a series of tedious and meticulous production jobs. Despite the work, I learned to enjoy the constraints that came with functional art making. I realized the best things take time and that the pleasure is in the process. I continue to embrace that and would love to expand to larger, more ambitious work like murals or even furniture design.
Slant
Sometimes a single color can be the catalyst for an entire piece. Other times I have a vague image in my mind. It’s like trying to remember a dream that you only have fragments of. It’s those jumps between the missing pieces that end up being the most interesting. — Sarah Ingraham
How important is spontaneity in your art?
Even though there’s a pretty strong sense of order and structure to most of my pieces, spontaneity is incredibly important to my work. I never go into a painting with a plan. Sometimes a single color can be the catalyst for an entire piece. Other times I have a vague image in my mind. It’s like trying to remember a dream that you only have fragments of. It’s those jumps between the missing pieces that end up being the most interesting.
Are you formally trained? Did you go to art school? Who did you train with / Did you have a mentor?
I studied art and art history at the University of Vermont, but I don’t think that counts as formal training. I also spent one amazing semester at Central Saint Martins in London. The most valuable experiences I’ve had though were outside of school, especially during my first few years in New York.
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
Floppy florals, unique vases, organic shapes, over indulgence, pleasure, vitality.

Have you always worked in paint?
I’ve done a little bit of everything and will continue to experiment, but I always come back to painting. For me it’s the most convenient; I can just grab a bag of paints, a panel, an easel and my studio is anywhere I need it to be.
What are some other mediums you have experimented with?
In college I was really interested in printmaking and it led me to a job with a fabulous wallpaper company right after I graduated. While there I started hand-hooking rugs on the side. These things fueled my love of color and are constantly referenced in my paintings. Textile design is still something I hope to do more of in the future.
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
There’s so much! Nature is the biggest one. I spent the majority of my childhood exploring the woods of Maine with my two dogs. The smells and sounds are like a reset button. In New York I go to The Green-Wood Cemetery for my fix. I love the history and variety of plant life. Another source of inspiration is my collection of art books. They range from topics like Indian painting, Greek vases, and wildflower identification, to painters like Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. A few artists that influence my work right now are John Mcallister, Elizabeth Kley, and Betty Woodman.
Slant
My studio is filled with almost every kind of fake flower you can imagine. I like to bend and twist them around, with a little chaotic flare, to get just the right kind of arch in the stem. — Sarah Ingraham
How do your surroundings direct your approach to your work? Do you find that environment relates to your work?
I’m a really sensitive person who tends to absorb my surroundings. If I’m in one place for too long it comes through in my work. The pieces can end up feeling claustrophobic or monotonous so I’m always trying to bounce around to freshen up my perspective. I’ll go for long runs or walks around Brooklyn to shake everything out since I do my best thinking when I’m moving.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
My concentration for art history was in ancient Indian manuscripts.

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