Sarah Stieber is an established painter with a true zest for life. Her subject matter includes social justice, hope, resilience and above all- joy. Sarah was named “15 Female Artists You Need to Know from Miami Art Week” by CBS on Mogul. Speaking with her recently has really given me a sense of her whimsical playful personality. I admire that she just launched her jewelry line, which coincides with some of her artwork. I like the addition of wearable art.
Sarah Stieber loves fashion, jewelry and, of course, art… so this all makes perfect sense to me. Soon you will think so, too.
The topics I explore have broadened but I still find that the use of super saturated color to exemplify a hyper-electric and exuberant reality serves my subjects and concepts well.
I am so attracted to your colorful palette. I do feel there is heavy social commentary being expressed in some. It is like seeing a dichotomy of good and evil. Is any of that what you feel or intend the viewer to see in your work?
Thanks Nicole! While I’ve always been attracted to bright colors, the genesis of my colorful palate actually did start as social commentary – nice catch:). In my late teens and early 20’s, traveling through California, the East Coast, and Europe, I was struck by how social environments ‘reflect’ off of their inhabitants, impacting people’s physical appearances (style) and their internal landscape (values, perspectives, and self-image). I wanted to find a visual shorthand to illustrate the societal forces that shine on us as a baseline for my work, and so while studying abroad in Italy I began to shine colored lights on my models and train myself to see color in a new way. The topics I explore have broadened but I still find that the use of super saturated color to exemplify a hyper-electric and exuberant reality serves my subjects and concepts well.
I wouldn’t say my work necessarily explores a dichotomy of good and evil, but rather an exploration of resilience amidst adversity. Often my characters are experiencing a moment of coming into their power or finding peace, strength, and a keen sense of ‘knowing’ through hardship.
The collection is inspired by my Superpower series and Rainbow Ribbon Magic series, about women owning their power and expressing their creativity. I wanted to create the jewelry to give people permission to step into my art and transform into the fiercest versions of themselves, like the badass and empowered women in my paintings.
I love how you followed your inner voice regarding what to study and where to live. Do you feel your decisions are based with a lot of thinking involved when applied to your art or do you paint subject matter that your heart tells you to? In a more free way?
My art develops with a mix of following my intuition and planning… sometimes I wake up with an idea fully formed and I just have to paint it, and other times developing ideas for my work can feel more labored. For example, the concepts in the FACE IT series were developed after weeks of researching my models and sketching concepts to honor their ideas.
Here’s a recent piece “I Can’t Even” (below) whose concept came to me fully formed when I woke up one morning in quarantine.
The recent collab with jewelry is exquisite. Did you intend for women to feel empowered by wearing your jewelry? It’s one thing to be a collector of art yet wearable art follows the collector wherever they go. I personally buy a lot of wearable art for that reason- to feel unique and capture the spirit of the artist with me at all times.
Thank you! YES, I absolutely hope and intend for people to feel empowered wearing the jewelry. The collection is inspired by my Superpower series and Rainbow Ribbon Magic series, about women owning their power and expressing their creativity. I wanted to create the jewelry to give people permission to step into my art and transform into the fiercest versions of themselves, like the badass and empowered women in my paintings.
What made you decide to design jewelry and are there more series coming out in the future?
I’ve wanted to create wearable art for as long as I’ve wanted to be a painter. In college, I interned designing graphics for clothing and since I’ve started numerous projects to create wearable art (I even designed a line of bell bottoms that never saw the light of day) but nothing felt quite right until now.
I have always known that I wanted to create art to be in conversation with people. I used to think that fashion, being more accessible and ‘out in the world’ than paintings, was a more immediate and practical platform to have that conversation. I landed on pursuing painting as my primary focus when I realized that this old-school labored imagery has intrinsic value, historically and because of its uniqueness. I understood that people would stop and consider the meaning behind a painting before they would do the same for a fashion item. Still, my work has always been inspired by fashion and I weave pieces I love into my work all the time. I often create custom painted clothing, headpieces, or props specifically for my paintings.
For example, I painted both boots in “The Sky is Always Bluer” (above).
I had an epiphany one day that by linking my paintings with jewelry I could finally embed my intended meaning into obtainable objects that could have a life out in the world!
I created the headdress in “Light Bright” (below).
I had an epiphany one day that by linking my paintings with jewelry I could finally embed my intended meaning into obtainable objects that could have a life out in the world! Yahoo! So then it was just a matter of figuring out how to do it. Now that the jewelry exists, it feels like just another extension of my art, and the pieces are naturally inspiring and weaseling their way into new paintings. I’m sure I’ll be making more in the future!
Who are your mentors, whether in the art community or not, and how have they influenced your work?
Elizabeth Gilbert is unknowingly my creativity mentor. Her work on creativity like “Big Magic” is always with me. Ashley Longshore has been a mentor and changed my life by purchasing my work and then inspiring and encouraging me to pursue a path as an “Artrepreneur”.
What did your first painting look like? What was the subject matter? Palette?
I’ve been painting since I was a kid, but my most memorable early paintings were made when I was 7 and 8 years old. I won national art contests through Road and Track Magazine both years for drawing “the car I wanted to drive when I grew up”. Most kids drew pictures of cars (duh) but mine were way out there. The first was called “Yin Yang Flyer” and was a car with wings flying through a colorful wind tunnel, and the next year I created “The Porkster” a wind-up pig toy-car with freaked out aliens inside. Both were really colorful and whimsical and have a similar energy to my work still!