Sage Dawson – Artist

Sage Dawson is a printmaker and painter, from Augusta, Georgia in the US and has been a professional Contemporary Visual Artist for the past 11 years. She has a blog at www.MapMint.blogspot.com

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Artist’s statement…

Historically maps have been used as tools to represent space: to make large things smaller or abstract things more concrete, as well as to consult for travel. Maps document not only literal representations of land—distinct identities of spaces, imperialistic expressions of power, and scientific understanding, but also abstract organizational systems, historical development models, states of mind, and world views. They may be in a sense the largest portraits of communities that we have. To this rich history I contribute my of bodies of work Timelines & Itinerary Maps, in which I draw from community histories, forgotten landscapes, and architectural research to create maps which explore memory & imagination.

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What are you currently working on?

Cartographies of Ruin aims to document and present lost, abandoned, and forgotten sites. These  works emphasize the momentariness of time and memory that is suggested by the nature of these spaces. In the case of abandoned sites, their gradual destruction implies a history which unfolds from past to present, and on to their precarious survival in the future. In this way, the work aims to begin to better understand how the production and destruction of spaces affects people collectively.

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Your art education was…?

A BFA in Painting & Printmaking from Missouri State University, MFA in Printmaking with a Museum Studies minor from the University of New Mexico.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

My education was incredibly helpful. I was fortunate to work with a number of faculty members who helped me grow as an artist. I appreciate that they were incredibly honest and challenged my process and concepts to press me to develop further.

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Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?

My piece Timeline was included in the book From Here to There written by Kris Harzinski and published by Princeton Architectural Press this past year.

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Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

I grew up in Missouri. Since a lot of my work hovers between maps and landscapes, elements of the Missouri landscape often show up.

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What or who inspires your art?

I am deeply influenced by the landscape of experiences, observations and literature around me. To explore these ideas, I began to familiarize myself with the history of maps within the broad contexts of art history, social sciences, and cross-disciplinary studies, as well as current trends in specialized areas of study such as the land art movement, environmental studies, Byzantine and Islamic architecture, and experimental or radical cartography projects (writing on the subject can be found in Nato Thompson’s recent book Experimental Geography).

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I usually mix printmaking and painting. I go back to these two processes because I like the contrast between an indirect and direct process.

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What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

Since I often work at a large scale, it’s necessary for me to have a detailed plan before I begin the work. Since the work is often bigger than the conventional printmaking press bed size, it’s important that I determine how to construct matrices before I start. Generally this means I begin a new project with small scale sketches, then create a number of small scale studies or models which represent the final piece. I’ll work on these studies until I land on one which best represents how I want the large scale piece to look.

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Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task for you?

I have an exhibition coming up in January at Pratt MWP School of Art in New York. I’ve been working on the pieces for this show for the last year. The process isn’t daunting as long as I plan ahead. Having a set of written goals with deadlines helps me stay motivated. I also have a calendar designed by Laurel Denise. It’s perfect for me and and keeps deadlines, dates, and projects manageable.

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Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

I like Alex Villar’s work in which he explores how the production of space affects movement and experiences. I go back to Kanarinka (aka Catherine D’Ignazio) because her performances are incredibly compelling. I will always be a huge fan of Caravaggio. His use of tenebrism has influence my use of color & light.

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What happens to works that “don’t work out”?

I destroy them, then throw them away. I’m a minimalist, in that I don’t want art I make to exist if it isn’t successful.

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What about the role of titles with your work?

I think titles are important. Whenever possible I select titles for my work. I use them to provide an overview of the work. I feel responsible to my viewers to be as clear and honest as possible. A title can be helpful in this way.

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What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?

It has to be clean.

How often do you work in the studio?

I get into my studio four to five days a week in between teaching and taking my pup for a walk.

How long does your work usually take to complete?

It often depends on the scale of the piece. I’ve worked anywhere from a couple days to a year and a half on pieces.


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