In the 10 Years Since

The ten year anniversary of Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares is here. We are approaching the anniversary of the show’s denouement.  This was my first solo show at a professional gallery in December of 2006 at FLight Gallery. It was an exciting milestone in my career as a gallery artist in San Antonio and I felt welcomed into the community even more than I had been previously.

The show was also a catharsis for me, as it dealt with past sexual assault and the emergence and diagnosis of my PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, and agoraphobia. It was almost a year in the making and had really helped me to use my artwork as a communication tool for things that I couldn’t articulate with words. There are some things that are indescribable; and others that are simply unspeakable.  But, by the time I had finished hundreds of pieces, written a book, and found a gallery to house part of the series; I was truly starting to feel as if I could move past these events as a stronger artist and human being.

Things took a turn in my personal life shortly after the show came down, though. I spent quite a few years struggling as my mental health got worse, not better due to a re-traumatization immediately following the show’s closure. I wasted years. I drank to cope. I drank through abusive relationships.  I drank through my father’s illness, death, and funeral.  I drank through some friendships, jobs, and some really close calls. It has been ten years and I am slowly working my way back to a place I left back then. It is hard to ignore the ambivalence and nostalgia. To recognize bridges burned and opportunities drowned in a bottle.  To remember the pain of that time, and also that last piece of myself clawing out of it. It is difficult to just see today and be happy with where my life and career are *now* and sometimes it seems impossible to not dwell in the ideas and notions of “what could have been”.

There is a piece I started right after events shook my life a bit loose. I am working on having it finished finally to debut it on the 10 year anniversary of its inception, January 11th, 2007, not even a week after Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares came down.

[Image of “Agony” in early stages.  The word is still  starkly visible and a prominent feature of the piece].

“Agony” was started immediately following a sexual assault and the intention of the piece was to apply a translucent coat over the word “agony” at the top to see how much temporal distance had to be placed between an event and its disappearance. Or, at a minimum, its obscurance.

Obviously, much has changed over the past 10 years, not the least of which is my perspective.  I have been sober now for half of that time and a mother.  I have spent the last five years rebuilding a life that I allowed to crumble and growing as a person.  I have spent most of the last five years on a relatively steady upward trajectory in mental health as well.  So much so, unfortunately, that a recent wave of stressors and symptoms of the PTSD floored me for a few months.  More will be written on that another day, but, I did feel like I had been sucked back to these days of huddling and trying not to crumble.  I’m still finding truly solid ground.  The One Main Thing I have learned is that none of this mishegaas is ever gone.  It is never erased, or invisible.  You never get it to disappear or shut up.  You quiet it and dull it.  You obscure it into the periphery. And that is what I now hope this piece will reflect to the viewer; an event or experience can never become truly nullified.  And perhaps that is a blessing even when it was, and always will be, tragic.

Temporal Dichotomy

Introductory Statement on a new series,

“Temporal Dichotomy: Evolution and Erosion”

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It seems to have started out with a line from a song. All from me attempting to write a silly little song and that’s how the idea for the series all began. Because I’m not a songwriter, nothing ever came from it musically, but the line would get stuck in my head, over and over again. I think it was something about the “ruins of our love” and the “architecture of our relationship”. It was honestly kind of silly and trite.
But this idea evolved into the two sides of the word “ruin”; the emotional side of destruction and destroying something in an internal and somewhat intangible way, and then the other side of that where you can see the physicality of something as it is destroyed. As it’s broken down. And it just became a fascination with flipping the two ideas and focusing on the physicality of emotional ruin and the evocation of emotion that you get from seeing the physical ruin of something that was once strong beautiful.
The series will also focus on the other side of time lapsed, histories and change. And that is growth. It will examine the underlying architectures and the beauty and character gained through time and the weathering of events, both physical and emotional.

At this moment, the whole concept is a mishegaas of identity, personal and shared histories, the passage of time and its effects on ourselves and our environments. Visually and sociologically, I am fascinated by the patterns that emerge as we are changed, as we grow and as we are destroyed through the lives that we live in the same way that architecture and landscapes are forever changed by everything that contacts them. And, finally, discovering how our identity has been formed by our history, our environment, and how it can be best used to enact positive changes on our environments and societies.

So, it is really a lot to take in, digest, and convey to an audience. My hope is that as the series evolves and is eventually finished and displayed, it will become more clear.

Inside]Out fundraiser

 

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It has now been a couple of weeks since Alpha Home had their fundraiser. It was amazing to be able to attend with my youngest son. He really enjoyed seeing all of the paintings and the hope and happiness that you could see in each piece.

It was a bit surreal to be recognized from the brief interview on our local PBS station. But my son seemed to bask in the attention that we received.

I am very happy that the piece I donated was able to raise a bit of money for the program and I was able to give back just a bit to an organization that really helped to give me a new life.

I am so grateful that I was contacted to participate in this event. Please take the time to check out what Alpha Home does for women day in and day out…

 

Here is a link to the KLRN program, in case you missed it.

The segment on Alpha Home and Art Therapy is near the end.

 

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The Sketchbook Project

It was truly exciting to work on The Sketchbook Project in the 2015-2016 year. I approached the book as something of an intersection of my life at home, which is relatively contained and safe, and the lives of others and atrocities being played out Nationally and Internationally through the media.

It really helped me as an artist, to relate circumstance and society to my work, and ultimately to my identity in a much stronger sense.  It is one thing to be taught values and to know what you believe.  It is another thing entirely to confront yourself with those values and feel them.  It was sometimes uncomfortable, very uncomfortable actually.  Other times it was cathartic, connecting and really reinforced that my value system was indeed internalized and something of which I could be grateful to have been taught.

 

To view the entire Sketchbook, visit The Sketchbook Project‘s Library.  Take a look around at the other books while you’re there, too.

Recovery

Coming Back to Motherhood
Coming Back to Motherhood

Last week, I was asked to do a piece for Alpha Home’s upcoming fundraiser. Alpha Home is an addiction treatment center in San Antonio, TX. I was absolutely honored to be able to contribute to this organization because it is the program that I went through when I got sober over 4 years ago and they continue to do amazing things for women struggling with addiction.

The theme for the art pieces is “Inside Out” and dealt with the feelings and internal struggle of addiction and recovery.  It meant a lot to work on this piece, not only to be able to give back in a small way to a place that helped me so much in my life, but also to be able to re-examine those parts of my life and how it shaped who I am today.

I painted my son, helping me up from where I once was.  Because recovering from alcoholism has given me the chance to be with him (and now my other son) as the mother he deserves.  I conveyed the emotions mainly through the use of color, and honestly, I feel like the piece communicates more of that sentiment than I could articulate with words.

Every day’s a good day with paint

Sara Barcus paints Bob RossI recently got the opportunity to work on a film project with the wonderful guys at Hot Like the Desert Productions. We decided to do an interview and create a timelapse of the creation of a piece. This required that I had to complete a piece in a timeframe that is much shorter than I am accustomed. I decided to plan a fun piece instead of attempting to tackle something similar in detail and process to my typical work.

I am absolutely thrilled with how everything came together for this video. I wanted to do a tribute to Bob Ross, the master of televised painting tutorials. There is something entertaining to me about making a video of myself, painting a portrait of Bob Ross (who was famous for making videos of painting pictures) and have him painting a portrait of my face in his landscape. And when we found the song and then discovered it was open-source, every little thing just came together.

Here’s to happy little accidents. Every day’s a good day with paint.

Abandon

AbandonThere is a photograph of her oldest son in which he is jumping on a trampoline, completely abandoning himself to the air between his feet and the earth. It embodies everything about him, childhood, and life.

His hair is suspended, in the captured moment, in an awkward flop covering one eye as the wind pushes it down against his rising head. His mouth is open as wide as it goes, gulping in the excitement of this experience whole. His arms and legs are crooked in varying directions as his body is flung up beyond his control. He is enthralled. He is entranced. He is ecstatic.

Every child has their first jump on a trampoline, though she isn’t sure that every child has the experience that her son had. Looking at him, she remembers a conversation they had once when he was around 3…

“Mama, I wanna fly.”

“You wanna fly? Like a bird?”

“Yeah, Mama. Like a bird.”

“Oh, well baby, you need wings to fly. We don’t have wings.”

He runs off to another room, leaving her silent and confused. He returns a moment later with his socks and shoes and presents them to her. “Okay. We go to the store. Get wings. So I can fly.”

An intelligent adult would look at him on that trampoline and tragically see a child jumping on a suspended, springy surface, bouncing for as long as his weight and momentum will provide the necessary force for relaunch. They would see the happiness, and the abandon, yes. They would, perhaps, see the struggle to remain on his feet and satisfaction of his own perpetual motion. For all that they would see, they would miss what was right before their eyes.

But he knows the truth…he is flying.

He isn’t falling, he isn’t bouncing, he isn’t jumping. He takes flight as his feet brush with the ground momentarily. He hangs in the air and can feel that gravity is escaping him, even if just for a moment. He is flying. And it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.

And you can’t fly if you are weighing yourself down with a world of obligations. You can’t even jump.

Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares

Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares

Fine Art and Illustration