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After the success of the inaugural edition of Sésame, we are excited to open the door again and take you behind the scenes, sitting down this time with New York artist, Sara Klar.

Why Sara? Having visited Sara's studio in Brooklyn, I was drawn by the transition of her work over time and how she intersects the creation of art with interior design. I was unprepared as we sat down for the depth of her story, how after pushing deep down into denial the burning question she heard while honeymooning at the age of 19 in Italy, Sara reached a point some 19 months later where she could no longer breathe. How she overcame the extreme feeling of being uncomfortable in order to leave her marriage, family and community, rewriting the rules by which she lived her life. Explore the external reality of another— the variance of form, color and emotions.

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  1. 1. As we here sit tucked away in Brooklyn, when you look upon the street, can you describe your external reality— how you see the world? I see many worlds, pulling me in saying “look at me! ” with my attention going to what is most foreign in the moment. Such a rich world, the world of light piercing through the green of the trees turning the concrete below into black and white tiles. I’m drawn to the world of color, to the tensions of opposites and how things look in relationship to the color of the sky and things adjacent to them. And there is the world of people— exuberant. Which brings us to the world of my perspective. I can’t see any of the above if I’m self-absorbed. I’ve put in a lot of effort learning to move outside of the bubble of my own existence, so that I can experience the fullness of the present. We have spoken before about the continuing struggle between the desire to control life's journey and the inevitability of life's fundamental impermanence. With this in mind, what drives you to create your work and keep going? Q&A To start with the last, I have no choice but to keep on going, art is the membrane through which I live my life. I hope to be engaging with art on the last day I’m alive. As to what drives me, my process of creating- destroying-creating is the perfect embodiment of the desire to control and inevitability of fundamental impermanence. There is also extreme pleasure in both acts— in the moment of destruction when the past is nullified, wiped clean and in the moment of creation, when all is possibility. They may in fact be one and the same. You mention your process is of creating-destroying-creating. Purposefully destroying an artwork by applying a new layer on top must be very unnerving, as can be pushing boundaries, testing yourself. How do you overcome the feeling of being uncomfortable? We are taught throughout life to avoid being uncomfortable to the greatest degree possible. Yet being uncomfortable is really ok. It’s not going to kill us. And if we can learn to observe our feeling uncomfortable, we can learn what events are triggering the discomfort and what our immediate go-to reaction is in response. This is incredibly important information to know, to utilize, if there are things we want to accomplish and have been unable to. I’ll give you an example. The view you gain as an outsider is something special, you see things differently because you’re not embedded.
  2. 2. For many years I’ve wanted to take my painting out of my studio and into the street, to see how passersby would respond to my work, and I wanted to record the event so that this engagement would be an art piece. Several years ago, I hired a videographer, selected an outdoor space and arranged for numerous people to take turns with me throughout the day getting into conversation with people walking by. The evening before the big day, I didn’t hear from the videographer, nor the morning of, and by the time I heard from him it was a half hour before our start time and I was so angry that I had already cancelled the whole event, being sure he wasn’t going to show up. Fast forward ten years later and I try again. The night before I’m extremely anxious and I don’t sleep at all. I kept asking myself “What is going on? This is a very extreme reaction to taking my painting outside.”. The morning of, I’m a bundle of nerves. I take a shower, trying to relax, and suddenly I start sobbing and feel extreme fear. I let the feelings of fear surface and it suddenly dawns on me that it’s been encoded in my DNA from my Jewish ancestry that it’s not safe to reveal too much of oneself outside. That in Eastern Europe in the 1800’s, this could bring death. This realization is a game changer because now I am recognizing a pattern of fear, holding me back each time I’ve tried to move myself or my work into the public domain. With this information, I can feel the fear, but no longer have it control me. What inspired you to become an artist? I grew up in a fundamentalist orthodox Jewish family in Far Rockaway, New York, without even a glimmer of an idea that I was an artist. I was going to be the appropriate wife of a wealthy Jewish man, of a prominent family and an exceptional homemaker. Having said that, the artist within me (which I was
  3. 3. clueless about), still found a way to the surface. For important evenings out, I would apply make up for my mother and older sister, learning about color, layering and shading from cosmetic books. At 19, I was still clueless that I was an artist. My life was on course— I was now the wife of a Jewish man of a prominent family, except, and there is always an except, while honeymooning in Venice I stood in St Marks Square hearing in my head “Is This All ? Is This All? ” just as a pigeon swooped by and shat on my black coat collar. Back in the States, I pushed deep down into denial the burning question I’d heard, until some 19 months later I reached a point where I could no longer breathe. I knew if I stayed I would suffocate, die. I jumped ship, so to speak, leaving my marriage, family and community, landing in SoHo, New York. Like an alien, knowing nothing of the world around me, I observed people spent more of their time working than any other activity. Seeing this, I decided to find work I was passionate about. On my quest, I began working with an interior designer, finding myself surrounded by a world of color and forms. I began visiting galleries, questioning, “How do you look? How do you see? ”. Still, I had no thoughts of being an artist, all my energy was focused on navigating this new state of intense discomfort with the assistance of a therapist. On one emotionally difficult day, reaching out to my therapist, she replied, “It’s time to squeeze that paint out! ”. This was the start of my active engagement with paint. Becoming an artist proved not to be a choice… but the only way I could exist— “Can you choose being something other than an artist? If so, do it.”
  4. 4. Becoming an artist proved not to be a choice… but the only way I could exist— “Can you chose being something other than an artist? If so, do it.” What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life from creating art? The wonderfulness of art is that it is a place to feel whatever I want or need to feel— it does not need to be justified. Art gives me the permission to question what is critical about any aspect of existence. In my studio there are no boundaries there is no right, there is no wrong. Over the years, artists, writers, poets and musicians have left an indelible mark on the world. How would you like to be remembered? We cannot have one moment without having the previous moment. Art goes past the moment, creating situations where people can connect authentically with themselves and others, interact, have dialogue, to see outside their bubbles— a moment of shared truth. This moment can enable people to find something in their lives, explain something about themselves, remove themselves from a state of isolation, create the feeling of happiness. Any of these experiences can bridge centuries of hate and anger, and in so doing, change the world. If a person comes away from experiencing my art and feels any of the above, and remembers the experience, perhaps calling it up in times of difficulty, as I have done with paintings that have entered my soul, this is wonderful remembrance. Photographs  courtesy  of  Chrissy  Eastwood
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