Group projects are a great way to meet people. As random as that statement may seem it’s actually not because it’s how I met my latest interviewee. Sarah Marshall (insert joke) is a junior studying Fine Arts from Blairsville, Pennsylvania. It’s not everyday I meet someone in that program, mostly because it is relatively small. I decided to chat with Sarah about some of her experiences in the Fine Arts program, her sculptures and installations and if she believes she will be a “starving artist”.
Lauren Davis: Of all the art and design schools, why did you choose Parsons? What was unique to Parsons that no other school offered?
Sarah Marshall: I discovered Parsons at a National Portfolio Day event when I was in high school. I feel lucky that I did because I somehow hadn’t been aware of Parsons. I was initially interested in Photography, which seemed to be a strong program, but after completing Foundation Year I realized I wanted to pursue Fine Arts. I find the Fine Arts program here at Parsons to be excellent, and I love that the projects are very open-ended because it gives me the opportunity to make work that I am interested in rather than just completing assignments. I also appreciate that the program is based primarily on conceptual art practices, which seems to be unlike some other art schools.
LD: Sculptures and installations seem to be your medium of choice – tell me a little bit about an installation (or sculpture) you’ve enjoyed and the inspiration behind it.
SM: My final project for my 3D class last semester was a project that I really enjoyed. I created a carpet-like piece reminiscent of a shag rug using strips of plastic bags. For this project I was interested in working with sculptures or installations that encourage viewer interaction, particularly interaction that results in the production of sound. So for this project I created a rug-like form from plastic bags and the viewers walked on the piece, which produced a unique, sound-driven experience of the work that referenced the idea of the landfill with the use of normally discarded materials. I’m currently expanding the project to cover the entire floor of a gallery that I opened over the summer in my hometown called Illuminations Art Space for a show this winter.
LD: What else interests you within art and design?
SM: Sound in art is something that I’ve been very interested in. I feel like it’s one of the less explored mediums in fine art and it’s an element that I pay a lot of attention to and something that I tend to focus a lot of my work around. Some of my more recent sculptures and installations have dealt with the production of sound through material, as I mentioned with my 3D project. Last semester, I also created a collection of hollow spherical forms that alter the way ambient sound is perceived when the viewer (or listener) stands with his or her head inside of the structures.
LD: Tell me about an interesting class you’ve taken or enjoyed at Parsons.
SM: I’ve had a lot of interesting classes here at Parsons, but one of my favorites was a University lecture course that I took last fall called Old Weird America. The subject of the class was early American folk music, something that really interests me. My professor was Greil Marcus, who is a well-known author and music journalist. His knowledge of the subject was so insightful, and he also presented his lectures in such a compelling way that I think the class would be interesting to anyone.
LD: What would you like to ultimately do in the future? Do you think you’ll be a “starving artist”?
SM: In the future I’d like to be able to have an independent art practice and be able to make art for a living. I know that it will probably be a challenge, but I believe that it’s possible as long as you have a passion for what you’re doing.
LD: Any advice for perspective students or specifically for students wanting to study fine arts?
SM: If you are passionate about fine arts I would definitely encourage you to come to Parsons because the program is really excellent and my instructors have all been really helpful as well. It’s also great because the program is relatively small, so critiques are always very detailed and constructive. It’s a very good place to be if you’re dedicated and willing to put forth the effort.
Thanks to Sarah for the awesome interview! Check out more of her installations, videos and work here!