Artist of the Week: Sarah Campen

"The person who is drawn to multiple fields has something special to say about the combination of those things and the relationship between them."

Presenting our Kindred Artist of the Week series! We are big fans of all the artists we work with and we are so excited to share their stories!

This week’s featured artist is Alaskan multimedia artist and organizer, Sarah Campen! Sarah's collaborative work amongst diverse voices/movement/words captivates our attention and uses co-creating as a metaphor for building community. Be a part of the co-creative community tonight as Sarah installs an interactive collaborative piece at Kindred Post during First Friday! Stop by between 4:30-7 to see what Poetry in Motion all about! 

Who are you?

My name is Sarah Campen. My parents are Brenda Campen of Sitka and Gary Campen of Pt. Townsend, WA. I grew up in Sitka and now make my home on Taas Daa (Lemesurier Island) in Icy Strait, near Hoonah and Gustavus.

What do you do?

My first love is dancing; I study people and things move in the world. I am a multi-media artist, which to me means acting as a translator. I love translating from one medium to another; taking one idea and viewing it through the prism of multiple art-forms. Dance and movement are usually at the core of my artwork, layered with other mediums I am drawn to: words, video, sculpture, textiles, audio.

I am also a community organizer, and making collaborative work is essential to me. I love seeing what happens when a community of people come together to add their voices, their movement, their words into something new. There is such power in building and making together. It is practicing a model of how we can build our communities.

Who/what inspires you?

Recently, I have been inspired by the idea that it is not necessary to choose one artistic medium and forego all others. It is true that someone who exclusively studies violin has better technical skill in that area than someone who studies violin and basketball and mathematics. But the person who is drawn to multiple fields has something special to say about the combination of those things and the relationship between them. The artist Austin Kleon encourages people to simply let all the topics they love talk to one another: let your vocation and your hobbies and your passions all percolate together. For someone like me who has so many interests, that was a revelation: that my artistic voice comes from the sum of my experiences and interests, the collective whole of myself, rather than only one piece.

What’s your favorite moment in the process?

I love that moment of pushing hard on a project, alone or with friends, usually late into the night. Getting to really focus and dive in, that's my favorite.

What’s a trick of your trade, or a piece of advice for other artists in your medium?

I often find myself overwhelmed by the hugeness of an idea or project. When things seem too large, it's like freefall, it feels impossible. I am learning to break things into small pieces, to put borders around each step. The writer Anne Lammott has a great piece of advice that I think of often: she keeps a 1"x1" picture frame on her desk to remind herself she only needs to write enough words to fill that square. Bit by bit by bit those squares grow into a manuscript. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I have started applying this philosophy to my own creative practice. A blank page or a block of time set aside to make art can be scary: How do you fill it? Where do you even start? How much is enough? I've started giving myself really specific prompts. This puts a frame around the task, and helps me get to where I want to go.

What’s next?

I am working on a podcast! It's called A Piece of Kake, and is interviews with Kake community members about food and history and family. That project is entering the editing phase, and will be available later this winter.

This winter I also am beginning a new Instagram choreography series showcasing movement in my everyday life. Look for me on insta: @scampen

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