Studio Visit: Installation Artist Sarah Frost

 In Culture

As she prepares for an upcoming show at Mad Art Gallery in Soulard, Sarah Frost talks about her inspiration, her process and what creativity means to her.

Sarah Frost

Photo by Matt Kile

Where she finds inspiration:
“I tend to use things that have already had a life, whether the medium is plastic, household items, electronics or reclaimed wood. The bamboo [in the upcoming exhibit] is not recycled, but the red oak that I will be using is.

“I find it interesting when the materials bring with them a meaning. Part of it comes through human uses—like on the ‘QWERTY’ keyboards, you can see the residue of human use, whether it’s fingerprints or writing on the keys or nail polish or wear patterns.

“Another piece, ‘White Wall,’ was a 12-by-16-foot wall of off-white and gray household objects that had been discarded. Often the way they were personalized was very interesting.

“One commonality is repurposed items, but that’s not always the case. In ‘Arsenal’ I didn’t re-use paper, but I was re-creating pieces I had found on the Internet—tutorial videos on making weapons.

“I’m not an anthropologist, but … what all these ideas say about us is another aspect of the found or discarded object that is interesting to me.”

Her process:
“I like massive accumulations of things, which creates storage problems! ‘Arsenal’ was over 300 paper objects that were suspended from the ceiling in cloud form, and the ‘QWERTY’ was thousands of keys. The bamboo wall was a couple thousand lashings that I tied. And hundreds of shoots.

“I’m a graphic designer in my day job, so I’m familiar with a package having a really funky-looking shape, but then you fold it. I have the skill of seeing how paper comes together.

“I do enjoy learning new materials, so I don’t know that there’s a single tool I use all the time.

“I’m eager to see where the red wood from a local forest leads me. I’m just starting that project, and usually things turn up that make me wonder more things, and professionally that leads to more projects.

“It’s funny how work progresses. There are times when I’m sort of casting about, finding more influences. And there’s other times where it’s more of an inward focus, where I’m changing directions somewhat.”

Sarah Frost

Photo by Matt Kile

On creativity:
“My son who just turned 6 pops into my head—without so many constraints that I experience, he’s really wonderful at coming up with ideas. I enjoy the spontaneous times when we play or make art projects. He could make a huge stack of Hot Wheels, and he might say, ‘Mom, help me,’ but he’s making choices based on size, shape, how long they are, how well they stack.

“It amazes me how alive and spontaneous in a profoundly creative way our time is. His process for art is wonderful. It’s like the opposite of going to work and getting tasks done, meeting deadlines but not having enough time to do everything all the way to conclusion. He pursues things all the way—or he’ll go down a tangent, then another tangent, and it’s really a wonderful, organic process.

“I think of creativity as an organic process where it doesn’t have so many external constraints as I generally feel as an adult.

“When I’m out and about experiencing the world, I feel so blown away. I’m so grateful to have an outlet for that. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I didn’t. And I know different people have different outlets, but what an incredible thing to be an artist.”

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