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Meet Sara Rouse in Bronzeville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Rouse.

Sara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved to Chicago from Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2013 for my Master’s degree at the University of Chicago.  The city always sparked my imagination. My grandparents lived here briefly during the 1950s. They came up from a small town in Tennessee to Chicago for work, as so many southern workers did, to make a little money before going back home. I had a picture of them on the shore of Lake Michigan and heard about their life in this city and I was drawn to it as an alternate reality.

Chicago brought out new notes in my work and a different vision of myself. The landscape, weather, everything changed my artwork. I started seeing the influence of the lake and gray/blue horizon in my color palette, and my lines became more direct.

I’ve found a vital community of artists and creatives whose work makes this city and our world more complex and beautiful. Chicago is full of people who will come to an art opening in a blizzard, offer workshops in the little bit of free time they have, or connect you with an experience that will help you grow as an artist and professional. Right now, I am focused on finding residencies and grants to be able to realize more ambitious projects.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road hasn’t always been smooth, but even when it’s bumpy, it stays interesting. Artists have to find ways to protect their practice from countless things – from your day job, from self-doubt, from losing studios, and rejections from exhibitions. My practice has felt vulnerable to all of those things at one point or another. But my community has allowed me to be comfortable in that vulnerability and allow it to strengthen my art practice.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I make drawings and sculptures inspired by my reverence for intuition and transformation. I want to give everyday objects and images a new power by making pedestrian forms feel spiritual. Recently, I have been making collages and writings that focus on anxiety, power, and cycles of growth and decay. I mix Abstraction and found materials to reinvigorate both. Tree boughs and steel, okra plants and paint, plaster and dye live on my shelves and walls.

What are you most proud of?
I was incredibly proud the first time I saw my work printed in a book. I was included in Hyde Park Art Center’s Ground Floor exhibition in 2016 and they produced an exhibition catalog. I was on the show with so many of the peers I respect throughout the city, and there was something so satisfying in seeing the show preserved in that way. First and foremost, I am a book lover and it was a special moment that will never leave me. Art books were the reason I fell in love with art.

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