questions / answers, July 2020

Last week, I answered these questions for a feature on the @womxnartist instagram account curated by artist and teacher Veronica Aranda.

links: 1 // 2 // 3

What is your artistic practice?

I am a visual artist who makes paintings and drawings, and enjoys playing around in other mediums when given the opportunity. I have been keeping journals and sketchbooks since I was a child, and consider daily writing or sketching to be a crucial part of my practice. My work uses observation of patterns as a framework for considering attention, embodiment, and communion.

What is art for you?

Art is learning to see more clearly, and responding in a generative way. I think about “learning to see” in the senses of honing my skills of observation, growing in the ability to remain connected to the present moment, and of paying attention to reality in the world and in myself, even (particularly!) when it’s difficult. For me, this is a spiritual practice.

What/Who/Where inspires or motivates you for your artistic practice?

This week, I’ve found inspiration in: cherry tomatoes ripening in our container garden, the book “Enduring Lives: Portraits of Women and Faith in Action” by Carol Lee Flinders, colleagues across the museum field who continue to call leaders to account for institutional racism and unfair labor practices, writings on pregnancy by Amy Bornman and Caitlin Metz, and conversations with a dear friend about the false divide between art and craft.

arts workers for Black lives

together with my colleagues at https://artsworkersforblacklives.com/


Open Letter from Arts and Cultural Workers of NYC, Demanding the Defunding of the Police and Investment in BIPOC Communities

attention:

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Mayor Bill de Blasio
Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez
District Attorney Darcel Denise Clark
District Attorney Melinda Katz
District Attorney Michael McMahon

June 3rd, 2020

To the aforementioned:

As New York residents as well as artists, art writers, arts administrators, curators, and cultural workers, we are outraged not only at the last week of police brutality in response to protests, but also the centuries of systemic murder and oppression of our communities from overfunded and increasingly militarized police.

Last April, Mayor de Blasio proposed major budget cuts for the Fiscal Year 2021, especially to the arts, education, and youth programs, while refusing to slash the NYPD budget by any significant margin. We urge you to consider the ethical and equal reallocation of the NYC expense budget, away from the NYPD, and towards social and civic services and education programs, effective at the beginning of FY21, July 1st 2020.

We write in remembrance of Eric and Erica Garner. We write in remembrance of George Floyd. We write in remembrance of Breonna TaylorAhmaud ArberyTony McDadeNina Pop, and the millions of other Black women, men, queer, and trans people who, since the founding of this nation, have suffered systemic violence at the hands of police brutality. We write with our Black and brown communities in mind, who have suffered systemic underinvestment and oppression that have resulted in an overwhelming and disproportionate number of deaths from COVID-19.

In a time when it has become clearer and clearer that your policies and the policies of your predecessors have failed us, consistently compromising the safety and health of Black and brown people, we write to make a plea for you to act in solidarity with the ongoing Black and brown movements around the nation. As artists and arts workers, we have the responsibility of imagining and manifesting new and better worlds. In line with this work, we demand the immediate decrease of police presence in response to the #BlackLivesMatter protests, and subsequent Divestment from the Police and Investment in Black Communities.

Following the work of the national Movement for Black Lives, we repeat and unite with the following specific demands:

Respect the Rights of Protestors

We demand that no harm come to protestors. Violations of property should never be equated with the violation of human life and integrity. End the curfew and scale back police presence. Immediately ban the use of tear gas, a chemical weapon banned in warfare per the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993.

Limit the spread of COVID-19, which your officers have not done enough to address. Your officers have not worn masks, and the doubling of police presence means the doubling of the chance of COVID spread not only in our communities, but among the police force itself. Reallocate the money you are using to mobilize the police toward obtaining and distributing PPE and other medical equipment for hospitals and our communities.

End the War Against Black People

We call for not just individual accountability of officers after a murder, but entire police departments. We demand an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of our people.

Suspend the use of administrative leave for cops under investigation. Withhold pensions and don’t rehire cops involved in excessive force. Require cops to be liable for misconduct and settlements. Withdraw participation in police militarization programs.

Community Control

Hold the NYPD immediately accountable by external community reviews. The most impacted in our communities need to control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us, from our schools to our local budgets, economies, and police department.

Immediate Relief for Our Communities

We demand rent cancellation, mortgage cancellation, a moratorium on utility and water shutoffs, and a cancellation of student, medical, and other forms of debt. We demand long-term economic solutions like a Universal Basic Income and Universal Healthcare in order to address the immediate crisis and pave the way for a just recovery that doesn’t prioritize corporations and leave our communities behind. Support the families and the lives of those we have lost and those struggling to survive now.

We, the co-signers of this letter, stand with protesters around the city and nation in demanding deep, systemic change for our communities’ fundamental rights to life. As we work in our practices to continue imagining a more just and equal world, we acknowledge the work that others have done throughout the centuries of our oppression. We amplify the calls for defunding the police and investing in our communities that now form the policy line of the overwhelming majority of us, your constituents.

We are of and for the people. We are only few of many who have no choice but to demand a better future. We will no longer be brushed aside.

sincerely,

This letter has now been signed by 1688 arts workers across New York City. [as of 6/7/20]

Lynnette Sauer, artist + arts administrator

To view the names + add your own if you are a fellow NYC arts worker, click here

books (2019)

I’ve been thinking about what I read and why. Maybe this at its broadest: I am trying to understand the world, and myself, and the ways everything overlaps and intersects. Right now, though, it feels sort of difficult to focus on reading. I’ve been turning to poetry more than usual which feels manageable and grounding (midway through a Jane Kenyon collection currently), and am also finally getting around to posting my list of books read last year.

In mid-2019, went through a several month period of not reading much of anything but decided to let it happen and not try to cram in a ton of books at the end of the year to meet my GoodReads goal. Similarly, I only sort-of kept up with the “write something about every book you read” practice, and that’s fine. It’s back in progress for 2020, though! I missed having it to look back through at the end of the year.

Something else which feels significant in reflecting back on the year-in-books is that both Mary Oliver and Rachel Held Evans died in 2019. This interview (“Listening to the World“) with Mary Oliver from the On Being podcast has held up to multiple re-listens for me, and I returned to previously read books by both them (Searching for Sunday, Why I Wake Early). These women helped shift and expand my vision in meaningful ways and I am grateful for that. ♡ 

morning pages / reading spot
Continue reading “books (2019)”

Fine Lines

This spring, I worked with Etta and Aaron (both seniors in the printmaking department) to create our joint thesis show, entitled Fine Lines. Completing a painting thesis at Herron includes several elements: an exhibition, oral review, and paper; the pieces displayed at Fine Lines represent several years of (conceptual and visual) idea development. Creating this show helped bring together components of my art practice which I’d previously seen as separate and difficult to reconcile. It provided space to consider the works in relationship to each other, the typically unseen elements of my art-making process, and real people who interacted with them. In the end, this portion of the thesis work was simply an extension of the rest of my years of Herron – art as process, as teacher, as connector.

The photos / statements below recap the visual part of my thesis work as seen at our show, which took place on April 15, 2016 at The Oilwick.


Fine Lines | Lynnette Therese Sauer

Show Statement: Marietta Miller, Aaron Green and Lynnette Sauer’s thesis exhibition is a celebration of line in drawing, printmaking, and painting.  The work is thematically varied but unified by their love of mark making. Fine Lines references the idiom “There is a fine line between x and y.” It is in the fragile in-between, the gray areas, that Marietta, Aaron, and Lynnette find inspiration for their work.

IMG_6256 Continue reading “Fine Lines”