Five questions to Sarah Boyts Yoder

Five questions to Sarah Boyts Yoder

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Born in 1980 in Fort Worth, Texas, Sarah Boyts Yoder is a mixed media painter who lives and works in Charlottesville, Virginia in the United States. Since completing her Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting in 2006, her work has been featured in numerous publications, public and private collections and almost 50 solo and group exhibitions. She has also been a fellow at artist residencies in Virginia, Texas and most recently Cartagena, Columbia.Since when do you paint and what are your favourite motives?

I was always painting and drawing, even as a young child but I have been painting professionally for 17 years. An abstract painter from the start, I have a celebratory and playful take on color and material and in my paintings you'll find recurring, playful forms and motifs that are inviting and open-ended.

When you create a new work, how to you proceed?

I've built up a visual vocabulary of forms over the last 12 years and they always give me many places to start. The advantage of having personal, repetitive symbols is that you can stop thinking of 'what to do' and just get going. This leads to more fluidly responding to color and form as they emerge and begin interacting with one another. I also often start with a specific color or surface that I've recently acquired or found and it leads the way. Like a fabulous liquid watercolor or unique type of paper. I am always on the hunt.Where do you get your motivation?

That spirit of exploration and discovery, rather than invention and creation, really drives me. I never start out attempting to capture anything specific. The image always emerges and solidifies into something so distinct (in my eyes) but also so open ended at the same time. Which is what I love about abstraction.  Lately I've been thinking it's a lot like working as an archaeologist might, digging down little by little to unearth something that has existed for a long long time. There is always a big moment of recognition (when you know you're done). And yet what I'm actually doing, in that searching/exploring, is building the surface up. It's uncanny and very magical...I love painting so much.Your life without art would be…

flat and untethered. I describe my process and practice as improvisation within structure, like a jazz musician. I set up structures in the studio so that I can be more free and improvisational, have more fun, and recognize more connections in the world I'm otherwise blind to. In turn, the structure my work as a whole gives to my life leads to more fullness, joy, security and empathy everywhere else.

What is the best art place in your city at the moment?

The Arc Studio program is a studio here in Charlottesville, where I live, where adult artists with developmental disabilities can create, experiment, explore, and connect through art making experiences. I've visited this incredibly creative studio before and seen the works the artists there are making and it's so very inspiring and engaging.  This work is always so pure and responsive to that one specific artist's sensibilities to color and material but it's not self conscious. And it's really emotional too, I love it. Those qualities are always ones I'm hoping come through in my work too.Learn more about the artist: