Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Inspired Daydreaming

Interview with Anangka Arts
@schulmanArt, Miriam Schulman
Sarah Schantz of Anangka Arts
Sarah Elizabeth Taz Schantz of Anagka Arts describes herself as a writer, an artist, an academic, a mother, a wife, an individual, a backstage goddess and a witch and lives in Boulder, Colorado. She started selling her art on etsy in 2009. She studied creative writing and visual art at Naropa University

What is your favorite medium to work in?

Schantz: While I began with a particular affinity for pen & ink I now prefer collage and mixed media; not only does it allow me to incorporate my pen & ink drawings, but I like the fact the medium is akin to the Jungian sand tray used in sand play therapy. I have been collaging my own Tarot deck and this medium is quite conducive for this project. I feel the images and materials inform the work--they come together to find a way to express the archetypes. I often liken writing to being a medium; I'm just the channel--the characters come to me and utilize me to tell their stories. I really have very little to do with it other than the practice of being open and of listening. The same goes for collage and mixed media. I am concerned about the environment and so being able to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill seems like the ethical thing to do. I appreciate the element of play. I like printmaking a lot because it requires another way of thinking, and one that doesn't come natural to me; I like the challenge. Unfortunately, I have a lot of pain issues and without a press of my own it is a medium that I can only dabble in as it requires so much muscle to not only carve the blocks, but to burnish and hand-lift them. I enjoy the practice of ephemeral art as well--working with materials in nature and leaving them to the elements of nature; this is more personal art, and while I like the idea of strangers happening upon the work, I rarely even photograph the pieces.

Schantz's pen and ink
How do you get inspired and focused?
Schantz: Inspiration is NEVER an issue but focus is. I think I focus by allowing myself to wander in and out of projects. I've been collaging the Tarot deck for over five years and at this point I think I need to set an art show and deadline to force me to finish. I've strayed into other projects including the pen & ink illustrations of personified botanicals and my paper and plywood doll series of real people from the sideshow business of circuses, carnivals, dime shows and vaudeville. I mention these projects because I think they illustrate the reasons I'm an artist. These projects serve as an education. When I work with the Tarot, I learn about archetypes and mythology, when I work with the plants I learn about their folklore, their medicine, their character and when I draw and create the paper dolls, I learn about medical conditions, and all the tall tales of the carni world. It's a way of doing research--of enriching my mind. I love to do custom memory work for other people; one example is a woman who asked for a memory piece to be made from her grandmother's evening gowns. The dresses were from the cusp of the twentieth century and disintegrating. I listened to the woman talk about her matriarch and from the narratives, I saved the fabric by creating a flower garden behind glass in a shadow box. I also make a lot of lists. The lists list ideas, thoughts, and projects that need starting or completion.

Greeting Cards support Women for Women International
SchulmanArt: Describe a typical day for you. 
Schantz: I drink two cups of coffee every morning and spend this time writing. I work on my art in the afternoon or at night. I also spend a lot of time doing research--reading about the subjects I'm creating. Mixed media and collage requires materials, and my days are also spent collecting these. People know I like their *junk* and my house has become a sort of creative landfill. This requires a lot of organization and thought (it's a fine line between museum/supply closet and hoarding). I peruse thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops and other people's *trash* as well. I place a lot of value on the daydream.

What is your studio space like?
I am fortunate to have a space for both writing and for art. My *office* (I don't care for that word) is upstairs. I live with my husband and twelve year daughter, Story, in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Boulder. We are surrounded by open sky, century-old cottonwoods, screech owls and coyote. From my office I can see a tall catalpa tree and the front range of the Rocky Mountains. I use this space not just for writing but for research and the business aspects of my art--email correspondence, Etsy maintenance, etc. Downstairs, my studio is my stepdaughter's old bedroom (she's twenty-one and all grown up). At the back of the house, the room is long and serves simultaneously as a guest bedroom so there is an antique wrought iron bed in the corner. The windows overlook the prairies behind out house. The room is long. For the work station I have an old farm-style kitchen table. The closet is filled with old magazines, outdated calendars, various papers and paper scraps, as well as books that are warped or otherwise damaged (I have a particular affinity for illustrated children's books, Asian font newspapers, and Korans). Then I have shelf after shelf stocked with found objects: dolls and doll parts, antique lace, bridal veils, poppy pods, lotus pods, angel wings, skull beads, broken bits of jewelry, ornaments, bones, feathers, etc. I try to arrange everything by color; it seems I never have enough space. I also have a basic cabinet for art supplies like paint, glue, pens, ink, etc. In the shed in the yard I have a scroll saw and this is where I also store my tent and supplies for vending at markets and festivals. I've considered having studio space elsewhere but as a mother and a hermit it suits me to work at home. Gaston Bachelard wrote a book titled, The Poetics of Space, in which he writes about the importance of the daydream; he says the house is the space for daydreaming. I believe daydreaming is integral to writing and art-making just as I believe writing and art-making is a way in which to daydream. My art is all over the house. I need to sell it to make room for more!!!

SchulmanArt: Did you have a creative childhood?
Schantz:  I literally grew up in a bookstore so my parents have always encouraged my writing and my art. My mother was an artist too--she was particularly good at pen & ink and colored pencils--and she also wove pine needle baskets. My parents have a small press too and I've illustrated many of the book covers. Both my daughters love to draw. My youngest is drawn to my studio space because in a way it's like a large doll house.

SchulmanArt: How does art help you cope with the grief?
Schantz: My mother died two years ago. She had pancreatic cancer and chose to die at home with Hospice. She also chose to have a home funeral. While she was dying, her granddaughters spent their days at her side making paper butterflies to adorn her cardboard casket. She even participated in the making of these butterflies. When she died, my youngest daughter and I cast a death mask of her face; I plan to cast it soon. My best friend, who was like a bonus daughter to my mother, is also an artist and she made a tapestry of a mermaid to go along the top of the casket. We kept my mother's body for three days and her wake was on the final day; friends and family came over to say goodbye. My parents live in the woods outside of Lyons, Colorado and everyone spent the day collecting mica from the property and attaching it to the mermaid as her scales. She was cremated and her ashes sparkle because of all the mica. I think the ability to grieve at home and through art-making was very healing for everyone involved, but especially for the children.

Dreamy things on @etsy!