#64: Sarah Rockett
A draftsman first, artist Sarah Rockett re-imagines the basics of line and movement and all the tricks of drawing in three dimensions, making installations built from everyday materials and soft sculpture. Inspired by the horror movie genre, she takes those shapes into dark yet appealing places. Last year, Rockett also took over the responsibility of directing Ice Cube Gallery from departing post-holder Theresa Anderson, adding a curatorial element to her already busy artist's life. Read on to learn Rockett's thoughts on that life in her 100CC questionnaire.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Tim Burton. He is simply a magnificent artist, filmmaker and storyteller. Burton strives to make oddities and awkwardness something to be appreciated as part of human experience. That is something that has always resonated with me. Many people undergo a profound awkward stage in life — some never escape it. Burton turns strangeness into heroes and unexpected victors. In allowing our imaginations to wander beyond popular social norms, we might get a bit closer to the truth of our own identities.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Filmmakers of the contemporary horror genre. Part of my research over the last couple of years has included watching over 100 horror films — in order to better understand how fear impacts and operates within our culture. If given the chance, I would ask these filmmakers if the industry is instigating or simply responding to a continuously growing culture of fear. Neither response bodes well for our society, but it would be a riveting discussion.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Negative connotations of the term "failure." If artists are explorers, innovators, Indiana Joneses of visual language, then how can "failure" be an adverse component of the journey? Not everything works the way that we intend, but each and every attempt is the most valuable learning tool. An artist learns infinitely more from "failures" that require one to use creative problem-solving and critical thinking. That is where the true innovation occurs. Fear of failure hinders the evolution of artistic practice, inhibits creativity and pits us against one another in the pursuit of "success." We could also do without such an ambiguous term as "success."
What's your day job?
Teacher, gallery director and artist. I am an adjunct instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, teaching all levels of drawing. Teaching is not a low-impact day job, but it continuously informs my own studio practice. It allows for a space of collaborative discussion with diverse groups of thinkers, and it pushes me to constantly re-evaluate my own notions of art.
Outside of teaching, I am the director of Ice Cube Gallery, an artist-run gallery that is truly passionate about pushing the boundaries of artistic disciplines. Every other "spare" moment is dedicated to making art. Art is like oxygen for me, a life-sustaining necessity. As such, it has to be considered a job, practice and time of devotion within each day.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Create opportunity for artistic collaboration. I find the traditional solitary role of the artist to be lonely and uninspiring. So I would renovate the idea of the artists' commune, as an expanded long-term residency in the size of small towns. There is no positive outcome in condemning the creative mind to innovating with only Me, Myself and I. Artists need to feel free to discuss, brainstorm, explore and make work with one another.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Make it a valued priority within our culture. Of course, there are things like housing/studio subsidies, grants and other financial assistance that are desperately needed, but these are not a finite solution to the problem. The arts cannot continue to be treated as a novelty, but need to be viewed as our legacy. Sculptures, poetry and music are aspects of a civilization that live on for millennia and propel us forward. The innovation and creativity found within the arts shape the very groundwork of our culture, and consistently hold our society accountable.
To treat the arts as a novelty is to thoughtlessly dismiss some of history's greatest minds. So, yes, give artists financial ability to continue their endless contributions to this world, but do it because the arts are essential to the continued success of our society.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many fantastic creative minds in Colorado. The ones who always stick out are those who approach other artists with an air of inclusivity, as collaborators rather than competitors. Peter Yumi and Daisy McConnell both have the talent and credentials to claim elitism, but they really care more about community. Above and beyond making incredible artwork, Peter goes out of his way to make positive connections with other artists. As director of the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Daisy enthusiastically supports emerging artists and focuses on recognizing great artwork and creative dedication.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
This summer I have a solo exhibition at Ice Cube Gallery, Gut Feeling, which opens June 26. I've made a return to fibers for a portion of this exhibition and am really excited about the outcome.
I am also thrilled about an upcoming creative residency at PlatteForum in the spring of 2015. It is rare to find a residency that places so much emphasis on community outside the walls of the artist's studio.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
Tammi Brazee. The fun and comedy that she puts into her work makes important issues, such as human interaction with the environment, an approachable and enticing discussion. She's highly driven, and recently started an apparel company to extend the reach of concept-driven fine arts, Rascal Riot.
See work by Sarah Rockett in Gut Feeling: The Fallacy of Human Fear, opening June 26 and running through July 19 at Ice Cube Gallery. There will be an opening reception for Gut Feeling and Wash Rinse Repeat, works by Laura Phelps Rogers, from 6 to 9 p.m. June 27. Learn more about Sarah Rockett and her work online.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.
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