Art Professor, Sara Sealander, was the presenter at last week’s Crossing Borders and Building Bridges event, Thursday, March 24th. The theme, “Not Quite Ancient Herstory: Sara’s Early Work,” was chosen by Professor Sealander for the annual topic of Women’s History Month, which, not so surprisingly, is March.
Professor Sealander began by introducing the audience to a slide show of ancient art sculptures and drawings of women, particularly goddesses. Among the photos shown on the nearly ancient slide projector was Venus of Willendorf, a statue from Austria dating all the way back to about 30,000 B. C. Other interesting pieces were “Stone Woman” from 1938 and “Bon Apetit, Marcel” from 1966, both paintings by Meret Oppenheim. She shared an interesting history associated with each picture she showed.
Following these, Sealander shared the journey that her early artistic preferences took, and how her experiences led her to begin drawing and sculpting her own versions of the goddesses.
In the beginning, she did many acrylic paintings on eight foot square pieces of unbleached muslin. These had drawbacks, however. One is that the large projects required much more of the costly paint. Professor Sealander sympathized with the audience of mostly college students as she reminisced, “I do remember what it was like to need the paint.” Another drawback of the larger paintings is that they weren’t easily portable. As a result, she began painting on long strips of the fabric. Influenced by a nearby store, “Tie City,” the strip paintings were made to look like neck ties.
After a while of painting the neck ties, she developed an interest in “practical objects” as she called them. These ranged from knives to backpacks. One specific practical object, a piece of paper, led to a new area of focus: print.
She began to draw notes, exams, newspapers and more. She even included in the slide a picture of a drawing of a page from an old edition of the Appeal Democrat. Around this time, she went to New York City for a summer. Determined to keep working on art while she was there, she decided to draw something from the daily news every day. The news included interesting but depressing topics such as the death of Elvis and information about the 1970’s serial killer Son of Sam.
Such negative work caused her to move from newspaper to something more positive. This is when she started centering on the goddesses. She used the goddesses to memorialize her grandmothers, who were exceptional women in the eyes of many who knew them.
The hour of Crossing Borders and Building Bridges ended there, but Professor Sealander’s work did not. She has been teaching at Yuba College for over 30 years and devotes her summers to her own artwork.
As for women’s history, this is what it’s all about: celebrating women who have pursued and achieved their dreams.