Begin With Art

“Begin with art, because art tries to take us outside ourselves. It is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere and context so conversation can flow back and forth and we can be influenced by each other.”    -W.E.B. DuBois

I heard this quote at the Academy’s opening of TALKBACK: Hybrid Art Installation Exploring Race and Identity (which you all should go and see) and it really resonated with me. As DuBois points out, art includes both the artist and the viewer. A piece of art needs not only the artist to bring it to life but also a viewer to view, enjoy, and respond to it. The TALKBACK show is powerful and it creates an atmosphere loaded with potential for discussion. 

DuBois’ words also got me thinking about my own work. So, here are a few of my thoughts.

It has taken me a while to figure out what I want to make art about. I didn’t just want to create for the sake of creating. I wanted something I felt sincere about- something that I felt okay bringing into this world and having people look at. I wanted to make something I had a personal connection to.

However, I wondered what I even had to offer.

Over the past few years, I’ve become aware of how strongly I am tied to my emotions. I have a hard time expressing them in words but I found that making them into physical, three-dimensional objects released some of my frustration. But I don’t want my art to merely function as a release. By attempting to make the guilt, longing, sorrow, joy, happiness, etc I feel into something we can see and touch I hope to create a space for thought and discussion, or as DuBois would put it, “an atmosphere and context so conversation can flow back and forth and we can be influenced by each other.”

It’s this idea of atmosphere that inspires me. Installation art is something so amazing! (Just look up Ann Hamilton or Yayoi Kusama if you haven’t already) These artists completely transform a space and evoke emotions in their viewer. That is what I strive for.

In July, I had the chance to attempt this in a small gallery in Charlottesville called “The Garage.” As the name implies it used to be a one car garage so imagine a pretty small space. But this was perfect for what I wanted to do. I covered all three walls with my woven/ intertwined black fabric and yarn. (for a better idea, look at the pictures below). The show was titled “Guilt”. Guilt is something I struggle with almost on a daily basis and I know I’m not alone. That fact was the inspiration for this show.

By creating this atmosphere, I was hoping to make a place where people could come, think and talk about their struggles with guilt. The context was there and amazingly the conversation began. People responded to the work in many different ways but it was something everyone connected to. I know I was influenced by the people who have talked to me about the show and it’s given me a desire and excitement to keep creating.

Thus proving DuBois’ words correct.

My next show will be at TOOLRY for the month of November with a First Friday opening on November 6. I would love to see you all there!


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Sarah-Louise Dechow lives in Downtown Lynchburg in an old beautiful studio apartment. She enjoys cooking good food, hanging out with her cat, enjoying good art, and working on her own art practice. With a degree in sculpture art she tries to take her interests in fiber art, installation art, and understanding her emotions and make pieces of art that anyone can experience. Until the day comes when this pays the bills she will work where she is needed. Right now it is the Lynchburg Community Market.  

The title of the above piece of art is "Guilt" ; varied dimensions, wool yarn, old clothes, pellon, black thread ; 2015.