SARAH ELISE HALL
Could you tell me a little about yourself, your background and your journey to becoming an artist?
My grandfather was a boat builder on Lake Erie, and some of my strongest visual memories from childhood are of the industrial boatyard where steel tugboats and commercial fishing boats were in various stages assembly or disassembly. The environment, permeated by the pungent scent of the harbor, was piled high with giant metal gears, big sheets of steel, old corroded pieces of machinery and huge cranes.
That environment left an imprint on my sense of aesthetics and in some ways, I think, became a touch point that I have return to over and over again.
It no doubt informed my romantic sense of the sea and inspired a sea voyage in the South Pacific where I crewed on a small 32-foot sailboat at 19. A few years later, between University and Art School, my curiosity about how industrial things were made lead to stint at trade school where I gained skills as an industrial welder.
When I entered Art School I was exposed to Minimalist Art and Environmental Sculpture for the first time. These movements would have an influence on where I would eventually arrive as an artist. Through a long period of experimentation with different mediums my studio practice has been refined to a reductive practice. My work combines my interest in the rigid geometries of industrial forms with my fascination of natural processes that act upon our environment.
How would you describe your work to someone?
Casts, or sculptural reliefs. I also think of the casts as urban fossils.
I'm interested to know how you arrived at your choice of process, materials, and 'style?' How did this develop?
Recently I've spent a lot of time considering humanity's cumulative impact on the environment. In particular, I have been focused on our production, consumption and waste of plastics.
My studio practice involves using found and recycled plastic objects as ready-made molds to create multiple casts. These are subsequently formatted into grids, stacks and horizontal sequences, referencing both industrial mass-production and minimalist art. The casts reveal the minimal industrial markings of the containers they come from and also evoke imagery of erosion and fossilization due to the organic casting method and materials.
What does your work aim to say?
While on one level this work is a meditation on form, on another it serves as a fiction about our future environment, imagining what kind of trace-evidence will remain after a prolonged period of plastic waste. Perhaps our disposable and non-biodegradable plastic containers will fossilize over time creating strange geological forms in the shapes of industrial mass-production.
What artists are you interested in right now?
Lydia Gifford, Sterling Ruby, Dave Hardy, and a constant: Richard Serra.
In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?
I love making things. It is always a pleasure to be in my studio and I can’t imagine that will ever change. I suppose the difficult thing about being an artist lies in the uncertainty that comes with it.
What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?
Maintain your curiosity, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and pay attention to what you love doing, the thing that makes you happy while you’re in the studio.