AHA! A House for Arts

S6 E26 | CLIP

AHA! 626 | Artist Sara Pruiksma

"Having a greater appreciation of what's around you ultimately leads to happiness." Sara Pruiksma's art is inspired by her direct surroundings. She fell in love with the history and architecture of Coeymans, NY after buying her first home there with her husband. Her art became an expression of her love for the area, and her desire to save its historic buildings.

AIRED: January 20, 2021 | 0:07:09

- Sara Pruiksma is inspired by the nature and buildings

that surround her. I'm here in her home and studio

in Coeymans, New York to learn more about her process.

Let's go.

- Lot's more garden, but that's a whole bunch

of daffodils planted over here.

My work is based on my immediate surroundings

and it's taken me a while to come to that conclusion

but it's something that I've come to realize

that no matter where I am

I find something beautiful about it.

And I think that's, that's what fuels my art.

So when my husband and I bought our house,

it was wow, this house. Wow, this architecture.

Wow, this town. Wow, the history, the Hudson.

Just the natural elements in this area are really

what sorta get my artistic juices flowing.

(peaceful music)

The one thing that always comes up in my art is florals.

My love of flowers really started when I was young.

I would go out gardening for hours and hours

and weed and look for weeds and I'd start learning

about flowers and my mom would teach me.

And I think just through that time

I really began to have such a strong appreciation

for these little things.

What's garbage, what's preferred.

What's beautiful, what's not.

I just think making those kinds of decisions,

and you know, is interesting.

I think it's certainly fueled my art.

As I began to work with florals more and more and more,

I realized that just working with flowers alone

wasn't enough content for me

that I wanted to have something else to talk about.

(calming music)

So that's where my husband and I buying our first home came

into the mix. We found this home in Coeymans

and it's 1870s style Italianate house,

and we just fell in love with it

and the architecture in the area as a whole.

So I started working with elements from the architecture

and imbuing that with these floral motifs and

kind of anthropomorphizing the buildings using the flowers.

I went around my hometown and I took a whole bunch

of pictures of these houses that I was really drawn to.

And using the pictures, I, you know

use transfer paper to kind of sketch.

It's not even just on paper, it's on a tissue paper.

So that to me was a really important aspect

of that drawing is that I didn't want it

to just be a sketch on paper.

I wanted it, I wanted the paper, the actual substrate

that it's drawn on to say something.

So I wanted it to have an essence of this ephemeral quality.

A lot of the buildings in this area have been torn down.

Some are being rehabilitated

which has been really great to see,

but it's this town that's kind of on the verge

of transition and I'm really drawn to the history of it.

So that was my way of kind of putting out a message that,

you know, these buildings are beautiful

even if they are less than perfect.

They're beautiful.

I could use the tissue paper to kind of speak

to the concept of, do we keep these buildings?

Do we recycle these buildings?

Do we throw it away?

Then I kind of realized, okay,

well there's a little bit more I want to say.

I don't want to just draw these buildings.

I want to express how I feel about them.

So the reliefs are more

of a personal kind of take on these buildings.

(upbeat music)

I have my framework.

I've sort of mapped out the essence of some

of the structural components.

And I want to start working on building up

the storytelling part which really is the flowers.

So then I would work with this two-part epoxy resin

and this I discovered a number of years ago

and I just love it.

It's so fun to work with.

You can get a lot of detail.

It's really malleable.

And then when it's dry, it's like super hard.

And like basically unbreakable.

I have these really fun presses that I use that help to

expedite the process of making all these floral components.

And at first, when I started using them

I was like super embarrassed.

You know, like don't let anybody know

that I'm cutting these corners

or I'm using crafting supplies, you know, the horror

but it's just another tool.

And I think it's just silly to feel like, you know

you should be embarrassed by the tools that you're using.

And I find myself using a lot of these craft, you know

materials and tools, and it's really fun.

The floral elements will speak to like the activity level

in the house.

In one piece that I did on our first house,

the floral accents are coming out of like the front windows

and when my husband and I first moved in,

that's where a lot of the activity was.

When you're trying to your living room set up,

then that's where the flurry of activity

and kind of expression was coming out of.

(peaceful music)

I hope that it brings people joy.

Some of the pieces that I do, I hope inspire maybe action.

And in just the way that our historical buildings need

to be saved.

I found this quote a few years ago by Marcel Proust.

The real voyage of discovery consists not

in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

It's how I approach life.

And I think having a greater appreciation of what's

around you ultimately leads to happiness.

And that's part of what I want to bring into my work.

(peaceful music)


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