We’re eagerly anticipating artist Rachel Sager’s upcoming mosaic workshop! Reserve your spot in?Beneath Our Feet: Hunting and Foraging for Mosaic in the Urban Landscape?today?and get to know Rachel in the Q & A below!
What mediums do you work with?
Primarily Southwestern Pennsylvania sandstone, limestone, and shale that I hunt and gather from the earth beneath my feet. I also combine those natural materials with Italian smalti, a beautifully irregular glass that catches the light and shimmers from every angle. As a mosaic artist, material is very important to me?but I’ve?learned that almost anything can be transformed into tesserae, which are the tiny building blocks of mosaic. Although I am passionate about my geologic material, I recently chopped up my Epsom printer and turned it into a mosaic!
What themes seem to occur/reoccur in your work?
Because I work with my native stone, Time and Place are ideas that continue to take center stage for me.
Whether I am building images from?and with the Marcellus shale or creating a piece made from stone that I find in one particular area, my work consistently?respects and?celebrates?geologic time. Map imagery, history and culture?are also themes that?I will always explore through mosaic.?Cartography is a?powerful tool for communication with its symbols, legends, landmasses, oceans, and borders.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite pieces of art you’ve created?
For the last several years, I have been building a series entitled?The Mighty Marcellus.? These vertically oriented pieces are cut-away slices of our western PA stratigraphy that I build from the earth itself using sandstone, limestone, coal, and the Marcellus shale with metal pipelines traveling down through them. I believe?that these are little slices of contemporary history that we, as Western Pennsylvanians, are witnessing and living through, right here and right now. They are a joy to create, from inception to completion and I am proud to help people imagine what it might really look like down there, 8000 feet below us.
What is the best advice you have ever received when it comes to your career as an artist??
That there are no excuses! A working artist is bombarded with excuses to not work, every minute of every day. A colleague gave me a?powerful book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art that helped me to understand that?the life of an artist can be likened to?a warrior going into battle. You are faced with adversity, resistance, self-doubt and often doubt from those who love you most. As an artist, it is your job to fight those forces and sit down in the studio every day. The work is everything, even if some days it’s not very good. I can honestly say that my life has been transformed after embracing that advice.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist in the city of Pittsburgh?
I don’t think I can choose just one thing! I am incredibly proud to be?a native Pittsburgh artist. Every piece I make has been colored in some way by the history and culture of our Three Rivers, our City of Bridges, our hilly topography, our Steel town.?That?rich history combined with?a new,?progressive energy is a heady mix and I’m not a bit surprised that Pittsburgh has become such a magnet for young artists. It’s a city that inspires loyalty. This town is in my blood and I look forward to being a part of its future in the arts.