What do Bart Simpson, Patrick Starfish, Pikachu, and puking rainbows have in common? They are all in ONE SINGLE MURAL created by the talented Sarah Jamison.
I was on the final POW! WOW! DC mural tour from the 2019 festival and Kelly Towles had mentioned previously that artists have 100% control over what they create as a part of the festival. The wall is provided for them and they have complete creative control over their piece, with the exception of the big three which are HARD NO’S- sex, religion and politics.
If you’ve biked/walked/jogged on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in the last two months you’ve probably noticed a HUGE, bright and reaction invoking mural that includes many pop culture references. I had to know who created this mural that spoke to me on so many levels, but especially as a Millennial.
Sarah Jamison is the artist’s name and after popping onto Instagram I quickly realized I was not only following her, but also had been captivated by her work which I discovered upon stalking her after the Pow!Wow! DC artists were announced.
I had to know more. I slid into Sarah’s DM’s and asked her for an interview to share on the blog. She agreed! While we had originally planned on doing the interview over coffee, life got in the way for both of us and a written interview had to suffice for this post. However, I am excited for our future coffee date and to meet this queen in person!
Now for the interview:
Q: Hi Sarah! Girl, where do I even begin?! I’m so thankful for POW! WOW! DC where I was introduced to your work and have so many questions. Let’s start from the beginning – why art? How did this love affair begin?
A: Hi! Thank you so much! I have always loved art and knew even as a kid that it was the direction I wanted to go in life. I never imagined doing anything else.
Q: You’re living in Washington DC, right? Did you grow up here or how did you find yourself in the city? What keeps you here?
A: I grew up in Orange County, Virginia about 60 miles south of Washington, DC. I moved into DC in 2006 to attend the Corcoran College of Art + Design and I have been here ever since. I truly love DC – particularly our arts scene! It is full of incredible talent that values supporting one another.
Q: I saw the HUGE mural that you created for POW! WOW!, but what is your medium of choice?
A: My medium of choice is colored pencil, but I often mix in a variety of media – marker, gouache, ink, and sometimes water-based paint pens. Lately I’ve even been experimenting with different options for a spot-gloss like effect.
Q: As a millennial I am drawn to your pieces because they are relevant to the content I’m absorbing online- why memes? What made you start drawing your versions of them?
A: I find memes, and digitally culture broadly, so interesting. There’s something artful and intentional about finding/curating/selecting an image that people overwhelmingly find funny and resonant. I think of memes, and most viral content, as symbols that represent a lot of different facets of our culture. I also think the general instinct is to not take memes or digital content very seriously – it is frequently dismissed as vapid, vain or silly, but I think it is worth dissecting and thinking about. I believe that it is the responsibility of artists to respond to the society and events of their times and the reality of our world is that it increasingly exists online.
Q: Kelly Towles said you were one of the artists he had to remind of the three no’s when painting murals for POW! WOW! because your work can be sexual, political and religious. Where does that confidence and strength come from to create a controversial piece and put it out there in the world?
A: This is a really interesting and difficult question because I’ve honestly never thought too much about whether something I create is controversial. I wouldn’t consider my work to be controversial. There is definitely the understanding that with projects like public art, you have to keep it PG. But in my fine arts work, I’ve never felt inhibited about what or how I should be creating.
Q: What is your favorite piece that you’ve ever drawn/painted?
A: My favorite piece might be “Break the Ice”. It is from the series of iPhone screen sized drawings and depicts a mashup of Kim Kardashian’s infamous Paper Magazine spread and Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen”. I was inspired to create this drawing considering how we use and represent bodies, how we consume those images, and how they operate as symbols, particularly in the digital era. I wanted this drawing to be a metaphor for commodity, idolatry, fantasy and fetishization and I think I’ve successfully accessed those concepts in this drawing.
Q: Was the POW! WOW! mural your first? If not, where/what are the others?
A: POW! WOW! was my first mural ever!
Q: Where can we find some of your work out in the wild?
A: I currently have a drawing at Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington, Maryland in the “Charmed, I’m Sure” group exhibition. That show will be on view throughout the summer. I am also excited to have a piece in the group exhibition “Apartment 5A” opening August 16th at Spoke Art in New York City!
Q: What is next for you? Please say a coffee table book of all of your memes! I would 100% purchase that!
A: It would be so cool to do a coffee table book – you never know! In the immediate future, I am finishing up a drawing for “Apartment 5A”, a Seinfeld-themed exhibition. In general, I’ve started creating a new series of drawings that I am really excited about that I will be working on for the foreseeable future that investigate notions of reality and the blurring of cultural artifacts or narratives within digital spaces.
Find more of Sarah’s work at her website HERE