Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Madison.
Hi Sarah, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
My fascination with the visual arts goes back as far as I can remember. As a little girl, my parents took me to museums, which I loved. I would sit in my yard and sketch quite often.
I was in one of the first classes in which my school district bussed kids from schools which the majority of the student body was made up of people of color to suburban majority white schools, so fitting in was a delicate dance. The overt racism and unconscious bias of students and teachers made it difficult to feel comfortable in my school environment. To add to that, I’m biracial so I was even more an outcast, not claimed by either ethnicity. It was difficult to just “be”.
But Ms. Grochowski, who was my extraordinary high school art teacher, made me feel so comfortable in her space. She made researching and taking inspiration from the masters and applying it to our own pieces so interesting and fun. I still have some of the sculptures I created in her class & can remember just about every piece I made. Her acceptance, encouragement, and gentle guidance while allowing me to explore different techniques really cemented my drive toward creating something visual to express myself. After my first semester with her, I made up my mind to get my requisite credits out of the way so I could squeeze every possible art class she taught into my schedule by my senior year. I’m glad I did.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
That’s a loaded question! What human, let alone an artist, has had a smooth road? We’re all imperfect, and as a wise king many centuries ago said, “The swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 NWT. That’s still true in our current world conditions. Every one of us the world over have been through unforeseen events we wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’ve dealt with many overwhelming traumatic life events. Finding a way to heal was trial and error.
Prayer, meditating on scriptures, professional counseling, and prescription meds have been really helpful, but I still couldn’t escape the feeling of having unprocessed and unnamed emotions from traumas pressed down like a recoiled spring. Visual art is one of many ways for the body to process and let go of negative experiences and trauma, a way to portray our self-awareness. So after decades of my inner artist being a recluse, I picked up my sketchbook and painting materials and resumed the process of letting go through my art. After a session in my studio, I feel light. I have a genuine smile; not the mask I’ve come to be so proficient at wearing.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Right now I’m in a period of exploring personality types. So my paintings reflect the instinctive components of neurodivergent individuals. They mask parts of their personality and processes they don’t want to be seen or are otherwise socially unacceptable, but magnify the parts of their real selves they have had to adjust just to be deemed “normal”. I symbolize their experience with dulled and scraped away areas as well as noticeable high gloss textures. I don’t know that I specialize in anything, really. I simply visually express how I see the world. You’ll always see a circle incorporated into this current series; they express the very foundation of our id, the family.
Sherri Jackson and Brandon Price