Sarah Renzi Sanders
US mixed media visual artist
Sarah Renzi Sanders is a visual artist from Kensington, Maryland a suburb of Washington D.C USA, and a mother of 3.
Through surrealism and symbolism, and working with acrylics, oils, collage and mixed media, Sarah explores her various identities from a young child to a mother as well as the plethora of roles women play in society. Her work also brings light to the taboo subject of mental health, using the mask as a repeated symbol to hide the true self.
Her work demonstrates her fascination with the mysteries of the human mind, memory, and imagination. Sarah’s own meditation practice and creative vision are intrinsically linked as seen through the metaphysical and spiritual symbolism in her work.
We chat about how Sarah draws on this meditation practice to create her art challenging the patriarchy in art and life, being your true authentic self, judgement and generosity.
**This episode contains discussion around anxiety, depression and autism**
Find Sarah"s new series here
Find Sarah’s Mixed Media Madonna project here
Find Sarah’s Kensington Artists profile here
Music in this episode is used with permission from Alemjo
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
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Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast where we hear from mothers who are artists and creators sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. Regular topics include mum guilt, identity, the day to day juggle mental health, and how children manifest in their art. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer songwriter, and a mum of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. You can find links to my guests, and topics they discuss in the show notes, along with music played a link to follow the podcast on Instagram, and how to get in touch. All music used on the podcast is done so with permission. The art of being a mom acknowledges the bone tech people as the traditional custodians of the land and water which this podcast is recorded on and pays respects to the relationship the traditional owners have with the land and water as well as acknowledging past present and emerging elders. Thanks for joining me. My guest today is Sarah Renzi Sanders. Sarah is a visual artist from Kensington, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC, United States, and she's a mom of three. Through surrealism and symbolism, and working with acrylics, oils, collage and mixed media, Sarah explores her various identities from a young child to a mother, as well as the plethora of other roles women play in society. Her work also brings light to the taboo subject of mental health. Using the mask is a repeated symbol to hide the truth self. Her work demonstrates her fascination with the mysteries of the human mind, memory, and imagination. Sarah's own meditation practice, and creative vision are intrinsically linked, as seen through the metaphysical and spiritual symbolism in her work. Today, we chat about how Sarah draws on that meditation practice, challenging the patriarchy in art and in life, being your true authentic self judgment and generosity. This episode contains discussion around anxiety, depression, and autism. Thank you so much for coming on today. Sarah, it's a pleasure to have you.
Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here.
I'm right in saying Happy Thanksgiving.
Yes, yes. Last night, so I'm very glad that it's
a feeling a bit full silver.
I am but you know what, I had leftovers for breakfast and, and it was great.
D tell me is it? I'm not totally familiar with thanksgiving. But is it almost bigger than Christmas? For you guys over there. It's like it's a really significant holiday or
it's not bigger than Christmas. But it's kind of the kickoff to the Christmas season two. So one Thanksgiving is over. Then we're bombarded with, you know, the Christmas commercials and the Christmas songs and the radio and like it's time to buy stuff.
It's like right off you guys. It's exciting. So So you're in a place called Kensington in Yes, Dairyland. Can you tell me a bit about I did a bit of googling. I was actually really interested in your weather. I have this thing what people's weather's like. So you're in? You're in winter over there now?
Yes, yes. So cold, windy. Every once in a while we'll have a nice day. That get air will get up to like 60 Because it's fall. But for the most part, it's pretty cold and windy. Like 30 degrees ish is the average at this point.
Yeah, I'm just gonna do a quick conversion and see what that is in Celsius. Yeah. Oh, that's alright. Hang on. I'm gonna look it up.
We're about 10 miles outside Washington DC. Maybe a little less than that. Yes.
Yeah. So is that like, minus one? So?
I mean, 32. Freezing? Yeah. So it's not terrible. It's actually been a pretty mild fall so far. But yeah, it hurts your face.
Well, where I live, we do not get anywhere near that. Like, I'm complaining when it's like 13 degrees, which what would that be for you? Hang on, let me put that in proper. What you can 13 Celsius is like 55. Right. So really, so that's cool. That's our code. Okay.
Yeah. Yeah, that's so nice.
You probably be appreciating that right now.
That's a beautiful day here.
So Is it snowing there? Do you get saved?
No, it's not snowing. So, um, I mean, today I think they said it was gonna be a high of 45 which is not too bad. I can still walk the dogs and be okay. Yeah, right. Yeah, so
that hang on. I've got to look that up. That's seven. Okay, so that's, that's okay. So seven.
So your style of art is to realism and symbolism. Am I right in saying that? Can you explain for people like me who aren't into like, understand, what does that mean?
So surrealism is you are creating work that looks realistic, but it's often an unrealistic setting. So sometimes the juxtaposition of things that don't really make sense together. Surrealism is often described as dreamlike. It looks like maybe it's came from my imagination, which it did. But in most instances of my work, I'm using my own experiences. And I'm kind of putting it together together in a way that makes sense to tell a story. So it's not an exact memory. It's not like a snapshot of a moment in time. It's more of, you know, how I was feeling in the moment and exploring how I can express those feelings visually, and put symbols in there that have sort of a deeper meaning. And my work, really, it is autobiographical, but I, I want people to be able to look at it and relate to these emotions.
Yeah, lately. Yeah. So that's something that started out as something that that triggered from your life, but the themes are sort of common that anybody could relate to that from their own experience in life, I suppose. Yes.
Yes. So I address a lot of anxiety, depression, mental health issues.
Yeah. Yes. Yeah. That's very common theme, isn't it? For people? Yeah.
Yeah. That's very hot right now. Yeah, for sure.
So the symbolism I'm interested in because one of my guests I had earlier on was an art historian. And she was talking about how she looks here. Her specialty was the long 18th century. And she was talking about how she looks at the art and, you know, tries to decipher I suppose, what was going on, and all that sort of thing. So I guess that's the symbolism sort of ties in people could look at that. And I guess it's subjective to like, people could take it. However, they needed to, I guess, couldn't they? It's not necessarily everybody. Yeah. And that's
why I like talking about my art. But a lot of times, I like people to tell me about what they see in my art and how it makes them feel and how it relates to their story. Because I think that's the most interesting part. Yeah.
Yeah, that's really cool. So what sort of mediums do you use in your art,
so I'm mostly an acrylic painter right now. I have used oils in the past but I am working out of a very small office space in my home. So acrylic is just the easier medium to use. And I try to I try to sometimes put things materials in there that wouldn't be expected. For example, I will stitch with embroidery floss directly on the canvas. So you may not see it as well in pictures but if you were to see the work in person, you can see that you know, this eye is stitched on with thread or these flowers are are sewn onto the canvas. The piece behind me as a piece has some lace on it. I also do use textural elements such as cracks. I use this paste called crackle paste and it kind of you put it on and as it dries, it creates these kinds of cracks and it reminds me of, you know, dried Earth maybe like a desert. So yeah, yeah, but And now we'll use a little bit of wash for details which Um, I recently discovered is very, very fun to work with. So yeah,
what is that code?
Wash? It's, um, so it's I recently discovered it, it's an acrylic medium, but it's, it works almost like an oil or a watercolor, it's very easy to blend. They're little tiny tubes. So it is quite expensive. You're not gonna like paint a whole painting. But a lot of people use it for works on paper and for realistic things. So I'll use it often on the face, or on the small details of a painting. Yeah, and it's just kind of a slightly different. It doesn't dry as fast as acrylic. So you are able to blend it. So it's kind of like almost like, like how oil you can it doesn't dry very fast. So you can keep blending it to make it look more realistic. Yeah, yeah.
So that things like delays, I guess is sort of, sort of reflective of like emotions. And I don't know, it's like you're creating all these different elements. Yes. Make sense?
No, yeah, totally. And I just, I do I mean, each kid has has a lot of layers, because I feel like each, like each person, especially when I'm addressing women and mothers, it's like, we all have these, like, layers that we keep putting on ourselves to cover our real selves and to hide who we really are. Maybe not to hide it, but you know, it just we get lost in there. You know, you're somewhere underneath all those layers. Yeah, yeah.
That's quite, quite good way of putting it. Is that that identity? Is that Yeah, it's a massive thing, isn't it? This the concept that you're, you're a woman. And then all of a sudden you have a child and your entire life has changed the way you think about yourself changes the way society views you is changes. And it's also almost you can sort of get lost in that, I think, is that is that? Absolutely. Yes.
And I actually had my first child when I was 20. And I was still in college, university. And so my daughter right now is 15. In high school, and so I felt like really, I didn't even know who I was. I mean, we all struggle with Who am I but but you know, at 20 You have no idea. Yeah. So I really didn't and, and so that did become so much of who I was. And my entire life. So I never really lived as an independent adult. Without being a mother. So I was a mother like, bam, and then yeah, I'm a grew up. Yes, that's right. No, I mean, I wouldn't change it for a thing. I mean, that was the you know, biggest growing experience of my entire life. So
yeah, absolutely. Yeah. How did you first getting to your, your painting and your artwork?
Um, so I actually I always was the artist at school, I always was doing little caricatures and drawings of teachers and, and people in my class and and I kind of hated it. Actually, I didn't like being the artist I wanted to be, you know, I wanted to be the athlete, or I wanted to be the singer. I didn't want to be the artist. I thought that was boring. So I kind of tried to like, downplay it and push it back. But when I got to high school, I had some really great art teachers. And I you know, all my lectures were art classes, gone to college actually got rejected for being an art major, because my portfolio is so disorder is not you know, me college was not, I wasn't if I completely understand why I was rejected. It was like, completely thrown together. I was probably like, late on it too. But I decided to become an art minor because I didn't need to be accepted into any program to do that. I just You declared art I was a history major and in our minor, yes. So I did work for those courses. And, you know, I loved it, but I wasn't going to, you know, become a full time artists because that just wasn't a realistic option ever. And then I got offered a job as an art teacher, by an old teacher of mine who I just happened to run into, and she's like, Oh, you're an artist, you want to teach art. And I was, yeah. That was my first job. I had a daughter's at that point. She was one. So I, you know, I had to take the job. I taught art, which was great. And I would do a little bit of drawing, you know, for lesson planning and my free time, but I really didn't have time to devote to my art as much. But you know, in the beginning, I was really painting just things that I thought people would like, everyone's well, some come to me with the condition and, oh, can you paint my house, like, a painting of my house? Or can you pay a portrait of my dog or things like that. So I wasn't really painting for myself, I was, I was just, you know, make a little extra money here and there. It really wasn't until the birth of my third my son Wallace that I started painting during his naptime. Because in the States, we don't have any type of maternity leave. So I, it was either I had my third child, it was either like go back to work, and pay an astronomical amount of childcare, or just stay at home with my kid. And, you know, so I stayed at home, and then, you know, he had a study naptime. And that was my, my time to paint. And that's when I really started to, you know, paint for myself and just paint for the pleasure of painting.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Was there a trigger at that point to, to encourage you to go back to painting or was just something, you sort of just thought, Oh, I just want to do this. Yeah, it
was, it was, well, actually, there was an event we our basement flooded. And so we had a spare bedroom in the basement. And I had been kind of painting out of it. But you know, like I said, before, not really, painting work for myself, it was more of, you know, these little side jobs. And when the basement flooded, we had to completely refinished the basement, change the flooring, you know, like, pull everything up. And I told my husband, I was like, you know, I really think instead of a spare bedroom down there, let's just put some cheap tile down. And I'll make it my art studio. And so that was really what really pushed me to start creating and then I had this big space to create and, and experiment and just make a mess. And that was like, such an exciting time. For me.
Oh, that sounds awesome. I'm really taken by the colors that you use in your AU. I mean, I get the vibes that you're a spiritual person. He's from like chakras or like, is it? Like head? Is there a connection there? Or is it just totally intuitive or so,
um, it's interesting, I grew up Catholic and, like going to Catholic school for 13 years of my life and very strict upbringing. But as I you know, especially as became a mother and became more comfortable in myself and who I was, I have explored, you know, spirituality in a wider sense. I'm not restricted to any sort of traditional faith. And I do have my Reiki level one training so I do and really use the chakra colors. And I do you know, only I practice taro which you know, as a child was told that I was summoning the devil sort of thing. You know, as a as an adult woman. It's like I know what works for me spiritually. And I know how to explore my own intuition. And I'm not really like I'm not afraid of being judged anymore for those sorts of things. Yeah, but I do, I try to use the softer, more feminine girlish pinks. And because it reminds me of my childhood, and a lot of my work is trying to go back and find that inner child and find what she enjoyed and what brought her joy and made her happy and gave her life. Yeah, so so much of my work is going back in time. And it is sometimes dark or subject matter. So I use the the kind of bright colors to almost reframe it and make it a little more digestible. Because, you know, if the subjects I was painting, were painted in, you know, dark, gloomy colors, that's just for me, that's not life, life is a balance of light and dark. Yeah, so, you know, the bad things happen. But something, something is coming out of that some, some kind of treasure is coming out of a bad event, it's always going to even out. So I do try to make my you know, even if my subject matter is death, or, you know, fear or abandonment, or trauma, I do try to keep these kinds of inviting colors into the piece because I do want people to bring it in and kind of reframe their mindset about certain things.
Yeah, that's really cool. Yeah, it's almost like you're saying, okay, so this is, this is gonna be tough. This is hard. But you know, what, you can look at it through different eyes, you don't have to see it as a, you know, a really big scary, massive negative thing. Right? Right. It's almost like it's almost like a form of therapy, you know? Yes. Yeah,
absolutely is in creating, the series that I'm most known for is the unmasking the self. And it wasn't, it had nothing to do with COVID I started this. I did this series in 2019. But I do have the masks, because I feel like as young girls, from an early age, we're very much conditioned to wear masks to hide our emotions. And so my whole life, I've struggled with depression and anxiety and just, you know, put on the mask, smile, perform, be a good girl, you know, do all the things for everybody. And, you know, and so that's a lot of pressure. And I think that especially little girls are under enormous pressure, whereas boys are kind of given a pass and boys will be boys and, and but girls are there's a much higher standard that they're held to. There's an account that growing up and I feel it, I felt it for my daughter. And and I have to I have two boys that, you know. I mean, things are changing, obviously. But the series was really born out of that hole. Who am I? What is my identity? And did I ever really even have one even as a child, you know, like, it's something you really you are hidden under layers of masks and different personas and different identities that people depend on you. And as a mother, it just becomes heavy and you're aware.
Yeah. Oh, that's so true. Yeah, that's, that's awesome. I love that. Yeah, I had a look on your website at the, at those pictures of your work. And it's just it's so profound, like when you start thinking about that stuff. Like it's how we start off the day starting with anything. Yeah, man, like, so you're right, having that. That attractive, sort of outside layer. It allows you to venture in without fear. I think you can sort of start to creep into it. And yeah, yes, it's very inviting. So you have three children. So your oldest 15.
So I have a son who is nine. Yep. And then I have a son who is five. And my five year old is on the autism spectrum. So that was another big moment in our lives too. kind of reevaluate what it meant to raise a child. And because we had a two before who were semi nurse. But my middle one is, you know, we're still we're still getting evaluated. But the youngest CEO, he wasn't speaking. And he just, you know, would, he was quirkier, and you know, would have the meltdowns and so but when the diagnosis came back, it was very shocking to me, I was not expecting it. But, I mean, he is the most amazing human being in the world. And he is, he did a program for two years for children on the spectrum, intense therapy. And now he is in a neurotypical classroom with a teacher's aide, and he's doing fantastic. But yeah, that was a, you know, that was another dark period that I've illustrated in my work. And just the whole stigma around autism, and you know, something as something that needs to be cured. It's not something that needs to be cured. It's just a completely different, it's a different way that your brain works. And all of our brains work differently. And so I'm kind of, I do I am very passionate about, you know, autism advocacy, and just reframing it like, this isn't some tragedy, this is actually an amazing gift for my son. I mean, he's just the most amazing little human being sees the world in such a way that you I mean, that brings joy to him and brings joy to the people around him. And we all love Wallace. And he is so incredible. It's this, like, amazing little light being rainbow soul who just has these amazing ways of thinking and speaking and seeing the world and yeah, so it's really been such a great gift to us as a family.
Yeah, absolutely. can sort of allows you to, to change your perspective on things or look at things in a different way. And, yeah, yeah. That's
all always a you know, one of my fears. Because it's like it, like You're conditioned to think that it is, you know, so terrible. And in for some people, it is a big struggle. And I'm very lucky that we had him in early intervention therapy, and he has just grown so much. Yeah. And yeah, it's amazing. And his siblings are amazing. With him. Yeah. So it's really great.
Yeah, that's awesome. Any of you children artistic as well? Do? You know,
while this would be the most artistic it's, and my son Leo, my middle. He loves football. Loves in it. American football. Yep. So he loves to draw football fields from every NFL team. But that's kind of the center of it. He's not going to draw any other picture. He's not going to draw a family portrait. It's literally just binders full of different football fields. And then he'll have little numbers and scores are involved. Yeah, but then Wallace Wallace really does like to come into the studio with me and he likes the sensory aspect of he likes touching the knee, you know, the wetness the feelings. And then my daughter who's 15 is a brilliant musician. Yeah. So she's not really interested in you know, visual arts but she's pretty I mean, she's pretty amazing guitar piano she can pick anything up and yeah,
good. That's awesome. So you recently created an Instagram page for artists in the Kensington area. So you're very passionate about sharing community? Yeah, tell us tell us how you came up decide to do that.
You know, I I really just believe that we, we grow and we share and and it's good for all of us to kind of like rise by lifting each other up and I I feel like having a daughter in high school, you kind of are forced to go back into that dark period where girls are cutting each other down constantly. And I do live in this amazing community of Kensington, it's a very, it's a small town, outside of DC. And, you know, we can walk to all these small businesses, little boutiques, little antique stores, thrift stores, we've got a couple of food places, it's like, my kids can literally walk, if they want to, you know, pick up a sandwich for lunch or get a soda. And that's something that in the DC area isn't that common, you know, it's a lot of commuting, a lot of driving. And in our area, we have this nice little perfect place where we can walk everywhere, and the neighbors are so friendly, and everyone knows each other. And I know so many artists just in my community. And I realized that we were all working very independently, you know, everyone's we all give each other a shout out or whatever. But I really just wanted to, like bring us all together and be like, Guys, this is really special, you know, that we have so many artists in our little community. And I want to eventually create, curate some shows, do some public, you know, shows or maybe even open a gallery, two years down the road, but just kind of tapping into this creative economy that's in our community that's so valuable, but it's just not seen very much. And a lot of these women are mothers working out of their homes. So we don't have much studio space in the community. And I just kind of wanted to bring awareness to that. Because people you know, around the holidays, especially everybody's looking for this special gift, and everyone wants to buy from artists in our community. So I thought by putting this together and kind of having it be a landing page for everyone, and just promote everyone, all of them and, and just bring us together and have this kind of be like a united force in the community.
So I love that. And I think also too, it shows, there's no, there's no ego of like, you're not competing with anyone, you know, it's like you're welcoming everybody. It's not saying, Oh, yours is better Rios there. It's like, it's just a supportive group, you
know? Exactly. And I feel like that's what I really needed. Because I was finding that in, in the city in Washington, DC, I was finding communities of women that I would, you know, be a part of, and I would support and they would support me, but right in my backyard, you know, I can walk to, you know, five artists houses right now, you know, and I'm like, let's do it here. Let's do it here. I don't have to drive into the city to get my community of artists. I can build one right here.
Yeah, absolutely. And it's so special. It's something that you know, you can you can help grow and foster that. And yes, yeah, I love that.
Turning back to what we're talking about earlier about, you said something. Well, the way I'm remembering it might not be the exact words but it was to do with not worrying what people thought. And I want to just read out a quote that you wrote on your Instagram page. You said, after years of hating myself, I am proud of myself, I painted this huge effing painting behind me and I love it. I don't care if you like it, or anyone else likes it. I love it. My work is powerful and meaningful. And that's a really profound statement. That's like, it is so like, you just, it's just your truth.
Yeah, it took me a long time to get there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But you know what I feel like once once the layers come off, and the ego comes off, and yeah, that sounds a little ego. You
know, no, I'm with you. Yeah. But I
you know, once you start worrying about people judging you and what others think of you when you more worry about like, No, I'm going to be true to myself and my authentic self and express that to people, you give other people permission to do this. Same. And if we are all, you know, trying to raise the vibration of humanity and, and work towards becoming our authentic selves and discovering our truth and our gifts and our talents, then everybody wins. So, you know, all the people walking around trying to people pleasing, be everything for everybody. And this kind of whole narrative of motherhood is the murderer, and sacrificing. And the first thing that sacrifice is like, your sense of self, right? It's just like you are not, you're just a vessel, and you're just a feeding machine and a maid and a cook. And, and all these things rolled into one that, like, you're so much more than that, like, they're everybody has their unique talents and gifts. And, you know, I did hide mine for so long, like, as a younger child, and even as an adult, not really finding out like what, oh, make a few bucks here, but what's the value of it, but I think that through Instagram, as annoyed as I get with him, it is a great, powerful tool to connect people and to, I mean, to inspire people, I'm so inspired by so many artists. And when I created an interview, I had no idea there were so many inspirational artists, so many artists that I could fall in love with their work, and just so moved by their work. And it just, it's amazing. And if we all just kind of get to a point where we can say, this is me. And this is my work. And if you don't like it, whatever. No, I didn't make it for you. I made it for me. Yeah,
yeah. So I absolutely love that. I'm gonna, I'm gonna take that and put it in my quotes, because that honestly, I feel like I had a similar sort of Revelation. At some point. I'm not sure exactly when, but in. In my childhood, I did a lot of singing competitions, it was sort of something that we had to do. And there was this massive emphasis placed on getting a prize getting a place winning. So there was this. Yeah, this huge connection between for me between singing and being good or being better than someone or someone telling you, you were good. You know, this adjudicator this one person saying, I liked you better than that person, you know, this validation came from other people. And as I've gotten older, it's like, it's the same thing. What literally what you just said, I don't care if you don't like it, because I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for me. And I think, because like, any form of art is so subjective. You know, there's plenty of art that I might not necessarily like or love, but I can appreciate that the person that's done it is done an amazing job in creating that, and they've poured a piece of themselves into this, you know, whether it's music or dancing, or, you know, visual art, you know, so I think, yeah, I've come a long way, in, in many years of just accepting and, and I still put myself up for different competitions, but in different ways, like online or writing competitions. And if I don't win, it's like, that's fine. Because it wasn't my time, you know, I can see that everyone's on their own journey. And even just as recently as last last Thursday night, I was in Adelaide for a competition and, and I didn't win it, and I had no pangs of wish it was me, I mean, would have been nice to win. But I can see that that person, that one that was there on their journey, it's this is their time, you know, and it's other incredibly freeing and empowering to be able to take away that you just feel you feel unencumbered, you just feel light and, you know,
yes. Once we remove the need to be validated by others, that is such a like, that is such a turning point. And obviously, of course, I still do get caught up in that a lot. It's not I'm on a journey and evolving and not yet. But I'm definitely like at the beginning when I first created my Instagram, it was like, I really was putting work online because I wanted people to like it. Obviously I wanted people to follow me I wanted people to buy my art and and that's the kind of work I was putting out and then a curator actually asked me who is Sarah Renzi Sanders, the artist. And I was like, I don't know. I it was a really hard question. It really caused me to like, like Who do I want to be? I can be any what I want. But I definitely don't want to be this person just creating, like boring abstracts that people like, so that they will sell. I want to be more than that, you know, so I want, I want my work to touch people, I want my work to inspire people, I want my work to move people, I don't just want to create something pretty to match someone's couch, you know? Yes. And I feel like I know a lot of artists who still aren't doing that and have been doing it for years. And that's their business model, and it works for them. But for me, I think I want to create more of a legacy than, you know, a financial IQ. I mean, obviously, I like I like money. There's nothing wrong with money, but I know what you mean. Yeah, it's not my first it's not my number one, you know, it's not my number one priority. So, yeah, I understand the journey, just the journey, every rejection is a stepping stone to getting where you want to be. So, you know, everybody's been rejected numerous, there's no one successful that hasn't been rejected 1000 times.
So yeah, it's interesting, use that analogy. I interviewed a lady in Australia, just a couple of days ago. And she used the same sort of that imagery of she had to sort of she was saying that she was meeting getting to these like roadblocks then she'd have to change direction and, and someone said to her, why don't you look at that, instead of a block, you change direction, and you're going across like a lily pad and you have to go across you had to go to this one. It wasn't a straight line. And she said once she changed that in her mind, that way of looking at it just totally changed. And that's the same thing like the stepping stones. It's not you know, rarely is anything in life in a straight line. You know, we take that turns and and end up with
Yeah, totally, totally. Growth is not linear. It's like a
big ball of wool or something. It's just like. Topic that that I talk about a lot on my podcast is mommy guilt. And I believe it's something that probably is a resonates across all boundaries, like nationalities, countries, that kind of thing. Is that something is mum guilt, sort of a term that you've heard much of or you've got some opinions on?
You know, I have heard it. And I do know women, estate's mostly women that are working full time, that have that mom guilt, I am lucky enough to, you know, be home and working while my kids are in school, and then I pick them up, and then I'm home with them for six more hours. And chauffeuring them to various activities. So um, I don't really have it, because I also feel like, it's, it's something that women need to sort of let go of, and allow themselves to look at it in a way that if I'm doing something for myself, I'm bettering myself so that I can be better for my children. So if I have an art show, and you know, I gotta, you know, my husband has to put the kids to bed and they don't get me singing them to sleep or whatever it's like, my kid is, is growing from that experience. They're not, it's not losing me for one night, they're not going to be traumatized by that. I mean, they're learning to be adaptable. And they're learning that yes, your mother has her own life and, and when you grow up and have kids, you're gonna have your own life too. And I think it sets an example for my daughter that you don't have to give up your entire life and you don't have to martyr yourself constantly. That you actually deserve to have a life on your own and it's gonna make you a better mom. So yeah, that's kind of how I feel about it.
I could not have put that better myself. That is brilliant. Absolutely love that. Like, the more I talk to moms, the more that I think that society is the one driving this Mum, do you like the judgment? The judgment that you get from, you know, other mums and social media this perception of what a mum has to be done Um, yeah, and people are going hang on a minute, I don't buy into that, like, like you said, what I'm doing, I'm not neglecting my children, I'm, you know, I'm doing something for myself, that's going to make me, you know, feel better about my mothering role when I come back to them, you know, in a few I'm going to feel fulfilled, so that I can give myself more fully to my children.
Exactly, exactly. And you're right about the social media pressure. And there's this whole culture, which I'm sure you know, about the mom influencers, and you know, and they're perfect little children, and they're perfect matching outfits, and, you know, and it's, to me, just so I feel like these women are, are sacrificing so much of themselves for this identity of perfection in motherhood. And I just don't understand how you could be authentically happy when your life is, you know, taking pictures of your children, making sure they look perfect. And you know, I'm not gonna send out Christmas cards this year. Sorry, I just know, I don't have any pictures of my kids like, altogether smiling. So you know, and I think that's okay. And I give myself permission to say, Yeah, you know, I do Christmas cards every other year.
Yeah, yeah. And
I just don't, I don't have the time to battle with my children until like, bribe them with candy and, and get maybe a mediocre picture of them sitting on the porch. And them all hate me for the rest of the day, because they had to sit in the cold and get a picture. You know, and like, I'm not the mom taking my kids to the pumpkin patch. And, you know, putting them on top of Tompkins. And you know what, I'm just not that person. Yes. And a lot of people, it's just like, they automatically think, well, if I don't do this, I'm not if I don't take my kid to the pumpkin, but it's just in the states. The Pumpkin Patch is a big fall activity. Yeah. Which I don't really buy into, because I'm like, I don't understand it. But it's a good photo op, I think for the moms. Yeah. And yeah, no, I we just don't do that.
Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of a lot of it's like, people were coming back to that judgment thing. Like, people have to show that they're doing something or people who literally, if it didn't, if it's not on social media, it didn't happen. You know, everything's got to be on social media and, and it's almost like, Who are you trying to justify? Are you trying to make yourself feel better? Like, what are you why are you doing this? Like, yeah, justify your role as a mother that I Oh, I spend lots of time with my kids. I'm trying to make myself feel better about it. Or, you know, is it for other people to say, Oh, wow, they're doing lots of stuff, you know, like, my exhausting, you know, to me, like you're talking about these masks, like, it's a facade that they're putting up, they're creating this pretend life.
Right? And that's, I mean, with my daughter, you know, now she's on social media, of course. And it's, it's just, I want to show her that no, this isn't like, this isn't real. These girls that you see with their filters on and perfectly dressed and posing places like, that's, that took that to take that picture, took a lot of work. And it's not like this perfectly, like little snapshot of my life, this is very much set up. This is a this is very curated. This, you know, this person in real life, they don't look like that. And I do like a lot of people that do it, it, it's almost like, I think with the motherhood thing, there's that loss of identity. And they maybe feel like by creating this diary of images that are perfect. It is like more concretely like, Oh, this is my identity. This is who I am, this is who I want to be. And this is where I want to show the world. But it doesn't come from a deep place. And that's where it becomes problematic.
Yeah, that's it's not authentic. It's not. They're not living the truth, I suppose. Right.
Right. Yeah, I think authentically, like you become your authentic self, and you express that and then the right people are attracted to you. I tell my daughter all the time, because you know, at 15 You're going through so many friend troubles and morphing of groups and, you know, drama, teenage drama, and I'm like, if you just be yourself, be true to yourself and the right people come to you and I didn't learn that until I was probably like, 33, you know, yeah. Yeah, it's, it's, it's a long journey to get there for sure. But when it happens, it happens. And yeah, I mean, I've so I went through a period of my life where I probably had no close friends for about 10 years. And then most recently, it's just like, I have all these people I really enjoy talking to. And we really connect. And it's, it's because I've done the internal work, it's because I'm expressing myself and who I am. And, you know, the people that are at that point in their life at that vibration are attracted to authentic people. So yeah,
yeah. I've recently talking to other artists, mothers, it's hard to apply to things sometimes and not feel like there is an aspect of, you know, well, we mainly don't want a mother to be the artists resident, or we maybe don't want a mother to be the face of it just because she's always busy. Or she always has other things going on. Or her life so chaotic already, you know, like, there are these, like, certain excuses, I feel like that people make for not working with artists, mothers. And it wasn't until I talked to my friend the other day that I really realized that and she said something like, about posting her kids on her social media, like, maybe I shouldn't be doing this, like, doesn't man ever have to think about, you know, posting a picture of his child affecting his career? No, he doesn't. In fact, it probably it does boost his, you know, his like ability to get jobs because people are like, Oh, he's a dad, he has a family to provide for but for women, it's a totally different. It's like, oh, well, you know, she has all this work to do at home. And she has all these responsibilities. But I'm like, I mean, me anymore. We are the hardest working people on the planet. Saying I have the time to do this. I have the time to do it. I want to do it.
Yeah, absolutely. Now when you talked about before the taro Have you ever done or thought about having, like creating a deck with your honor? Yes.
That is probably what's coming next for me. Yeah, so the whole thing was, I had this really creepy story happen. And it's, it was a few years ago, and I was visiting my grandmother's grave, and my grandmother is very, very close to my house. So I do visit her quite often. And I went to her grave, and there was a little like walking path above above her grade. And on the walking path, there was this velvet blue bag, like a little pouch. And I was like, what is that and I kind of opened it and peeked inside and it was a deck of tarot cards. And I was, you know, I love that kind of stuff. But, um, but I was also a little bit like, am I supposed to take this or do I? So I texted my whole family like what do I do? They're like, don't take it, don't take it like that is not when you don't want that, you know? And so I was like okay, but I think it means something. So I I did take a picture of the first card on top and then I looked up the deck and I actually found it online and I ordered it and it is influenced so much of my work and it has been so spot on. But yeah, I think it's kind of like a psychological tool where Anybody can do it. And anybody can interpret what it means for them at that point in their lives. So it's not really this whole, you know, like I was taught in grade school, you know, summoning the devil or like, this tool of Satan, it's, it's, it's literally a card of beautiful pictures and you shuffle it and you choose some and then you decide how that relates to your life and if that's gonna give you guidance, or tell you what next step to take, or maybe just how to have how to change your mindset about something. So, so I do think that that is coming for me and I have sketched out a few things, but, you know, that's like a long term project. But, ya know, I definitely think my grandmother said that to me and was like, Hey, you should do this.
Yeah, cuz you know what, when I started looking through your work, I was just instantly had this like, Oh, these need to be on tarot cards, because this is you know, that.
Yeah. Like, there's I mean, there's definitely a big influence on my work. Yeah. Sorry, go. Now go. Oh, no, I was gonna say even before I was creating this body of work, I was creating like a more abstract, like, I don't know, if you're familiar with like, paint boring. It's very trendy right now. It's old, like, yeah, liquid paint boring. So I was doing a series of those. And I was naming them as for cards, you know, like two of cups are to me up because of the cards from my grandmother. And it was like, Oh, well, I did this one the day I found it. And that was the that was the card that was on top. So yeah, so I was even before I was creating the stuff that actually looks like Taro.
Yeah, definitely going to do that. That is Yeah, no, I'm bored. And I will get some because that is beautiful connection as
much. A lot of my work kind of addresses that tension between you growing up in a super Catholic environment and Hoekman and what? You know, those feelings of like, I'm doing something bad. Yeah, no, yeah. Like, we need thinking for myself and exploring my own spirituality is bad. I need to just do what the grownups you know, and my sister and I would be like, you know, locked in our we would have we had a little walk in closet that we shared no room and we would read each other's cards, and we had our crystal ball and, and I definitely grown up to be that person. Like, I have a crystal ball. And we make cards every day. And I meditate every day. Yeah,
yeah. But it was something that you had to hide away because it's like, oh, yeah, yeah, yes. Totally.
I wanted to ask you about your other project that you do you mix media Madonna, is that? Is there sort of a Yeah, to do with that traditional. You know, practice religion.
It's so interesting, because i People often ask me, oh, are you like very Catholic and I was raised Catholic, and I am a part of I do believe that's part of my culture, and my cultural upbringing. You know, my grandparents came from Italy. And, you know, I grew up with, you know, the Madonna in these pictures in their houses in their homes and bring the rosary a lot. But I moved my mixed media data, I do try to kind of bring my own twist on Mary and make it more about worshiping the idea of the mother. You know, this is like, the mother is so often forgotten, and I really want to highlight the mother and I used to teach a big lesson on the the evolution of the way Mary was painted in art history. And she went from being you know, this kind of stoic, you know, very embellished icon. Due to being, you know, kind of like Raphael portraying her like a woman of the day, like during the Renaissance, like she was portrayed, she wasn't portrayed like, Mary traditionally in, you know, in her time she was portrayed, like, this is a mother or a normal woman that I'm painting, and I'm painting her in the clothes of the day with a very thin Halo, and she's becoming human. And relatable. Yeah. And so, I do, I just am fascinated by all the different cultures in all the different ways of, like, visualizing marry, and kind of making it my own and, and making it you know, more, more than the religion, I think it's like, the the Motherhood is the most simple and the spirituality of just connecting to the mother of all, you know, yeah, and I use, you know, prayer books and people send me like, literally antique postcards and things like that. And I'll find books in all bookstores. And it really is just like magic to kind of find all these pieces and put them together in a more beautiful way, because I feel like she was always always just seen as like, oh, it's Jesus's mom. It's Jesus's mom. And even in Catholicism, you know, we do elevate Mary a lot more than other religions, but I've wanted to be something more than that. And just something that every woman can kind of look at and be like, oh, yeah, like, I like I like this. You've had people that are like, I, you know, I'm Jewish. I'm not religious at all. But I really like this piece speaks to me. And that's kind of what I want it to be more of, like a, like, this isn't just for Catholic people. This is for everybody. Yeah. And that's, I mean, it's a hard balance. Because, you know, some people are like, whoa, like, I'm not religious. I'm, you know, but I think it's a little more than that.
Yeah, absolutely. It's like that universal sort of message of Allah. It is. That's what it is. That's actually what it is. It's yeah. And
that's how it came out. I mean, yeah, it was, like, totally born of love. And just, in me being a mother and just, this is another mother that I'm going to celebrate. And and you know, it is mostly mothers that buy a lot of people buy them for gifts for their mothers or for you know, yeah, but and they're all different. And I tried to make each one very, I mean, at this point, I've probably made around 50 of them, I would think that you know, are just out there in different places. But I just keep making them and even if I have the same image like I have a lot of Raphael because Raphael did a lot of Madonna's but if I have the same image I still want to make it like different different colors different flowers, different elements.
Yeah, yeah. Oh, I love that. Thank you. Yeah, I'm just imagining them would look nice up here and we're
making a whole dashes them right now. I was trying to get it done for you know, Black Friday which is this American holiday that everyone shops on but not finished yet.
You could make make your own shopping
I just want to have some for the holidays for people to buy, you know because because I don't sell my large pieces. So you know, the way I make a little bit of money is Prince would Madonna's release
Have you got anything on the go at the moment any projects or series that you're working on? That you want to share? Tell us about
her. Um, so I have started working on these large abstract pieces and they they're kind of could be described as more graphic abstract, sharper lines. And like, you know, boom, bright colors. I do a lot of third eye stuff, which I've done my entire career but it's way mo here. This one is in progress. So but you know, it's more of like Like, inspired by nature, but yeah, like more of a very symmetrical Yeah, structured vision. And I do get these when I meditate every day. And I do, sometimes, especially around the full moon, get these kind of like, very clear images in my head, that when I come out of meditation, I'll sketch them really quick. And then I just there they come, they come pretty quick, and it's easy to pick the colors. And I use kind of my standard color palette that I use for my other series just, I just decided I'm just going to always take with my favorite colors, and it makes it a lot easier because then everything looks kind of cohesive, even though you know, this, the style is so different. But you know, I've been I, I've submitted a few to some open calls, and I been rejected for those. So, you know, I mean, I've been rejected for every everything I've ever painted at some point, but so, you know, we're still working through that kind of my artists statement for those pieces and not try. You know, I tried to sound authentic, but at the same time, sometimes people are like, Sarah, like, bring it down a little bit. Like, with all the woowoo like, yeah, manifestation stuff, and I'm like, okay,
to put that was actually meant to say that, like, you know, why should you have to tone yourself down? Like, maybe they're not the right people to talk to you
absolutely true. Absolutely true. Yeah. I just think that my own art practice has made me a better mother, even if that means less time with my children, I think that we all need to figure out that balance and, and what we need to keep us sane, because it's very easy to just spiral into this kind of loss of self and just becoming shells of people as mothers. And I feel like having something of your own as a mom, and not just a career, but something of your own. More than a hobby, a passion, you know, is so important. And I just think every, every mother needs that outlet for themselves. And to remember that, like, I am a separate entity, I'm human in myself, I am not just, you know, because we often feel like we're just like, walking around with children attached to us. And, and with all of the, our, I've painted the woman, you know, with all the arms before balancing all the things and yeah, and and we're so much more than that. And I think once motherhood starts being more valued, because it shouldn't be valued. I mean, we are raising the future of society. So there should be more emphasis placed on the value of mothers. And I think I think we're getting there, I think. Yeah.
Yeah, it seems like each each generation is sort of pushing those boundaries and pushing the, the expectations of I'm going to say the patriarchal expectations, because that's basically what it is. Yeah, so each generation moving forward, you know, breaking ground and, hopefully,
yeah, no, I think it is, I really, really truly believe that. That each of us, you need all the other moms that are out there elevating other women and, and motherhood. We're making a difference. And, and I mean, we're making a difference to our daughters. They're seeing us do this, and they're gonna do even greater things. So yeah, I truly believe that. Yeah.
Yeah. Absolutely. Well, that's a that's a beautiful sentiment to end on. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate your giving me
all right. Thanks so much, Alison, is great talking to ya EJ.
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