Art Therapy: A Conversation with Sarah Winkler

We at MiXX projects + atelier believe art can be a vital positive force during tough times like those we’re all experiencing across the globe right now. We want to use our resources to bring you a series of regular emails with inspirational and therapeutic content from our artists and more, aptly titled “Art Therapy.” For our first installment, we sat down for a (virtual) conversation with one of our favorite artists, Sarah Winkler, to discuss how she’s weathering the uncertain times of COVID-19.

MiXX: First of all, how are you?

Sarah Winkler: We are all fine at Sarah Winkler Art. Healthy and symptom free, which we are grateful for.

M: That’s wonderful to hear, our team is incredibly grateful to be safe and healthy here in Telluride, as well.

M: What, if anything, has changed about your studio practice in the era of self-isolation and social distancing?

SW: We are used to self isolation living and working remotely on top of a 9,000-foot peak in Morrison, Colorado. Our home, studio, and woodworking shop are all located on our property, so we can continue to work through the lockdown. We are still able to buy raw materials locally like wood to build panels, and I can order art sup- plies online. Physically getting artwork to galleries and collectors has been done by art shippers who can deliver across state lines. But in the last week that kind of activity has naturally been slowing down as galleries are temporarily closing their doors and my immediate shows are cancelled or moving online.

M: Have you found that the events surrounding the global pandemic we’re all weathering have changed the nature of the work you’re making?

SW: From January to March, 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak wors- ened, I was working on a new series called “Land of the Glacier” for an April show in Denver (now online only) in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, 2020. The work is about transitioning from one state to another. Returning a frozen landscape to the sea. About the fragmenting loss of a place as we know it and the uncertainty of what’s next. I wanted to do this body of work because I was concerned about the future of the environment.

SW: The grief and emotional upheaval surrounding the daily news about death tolls and infection rates made making this kind of work extremely mentally challenging for me, which is reflected in a few of the works like “Adrift” and “Depth” [pictured at top]. Very different, dark, and poetic works from me during this period. Once the work for that show was finished, and the fact that now no one will ever see it in person (at least for now) is kind of poetic in itself.

Then a commission request from California collectors came in. It was a landscape work about Springtime, sunny days, and the wildflowers blooming. The bright palette and the sense of renewal that the warmer season brings gave me a sense of optimistic hope and helped calm my anxious mind. That work was a catalyst for what I want to do next. It spawned a whole new direction that I wasn’t planning on taking and I’ve shifted my focus entirely to exploring the subject of High Desert, Pacific Coastal, and Rocky Mountain wildflowers in bloom on protected landscapes. I’m currently creating painting techniques that mimic the concepts of cross-pollination, planting new seeds, and beginning again.

M: Personally, I’ve found that now more than ever experiencing art is a welcome moment of respite from all of the chaos. What do you think the role of art and artists is or should be in times like these?

SW: It’s always an artistic mission of mine to bring my deep love and appreciation of the natural world into the collective consciousness through powerful and beautiful aesthetics. As a painter, color is an essential ingredient to my works. I’ve studied color from a purely scientific level for mixing and application to an esoteric, energetic, spiritual level. Color can affect emotion and heal anxious minds. I try to tune in to the energetic qualities of seasonal color and use that along with organic geological textures to create a connection to nature in each painting. Both viewing art and being in nature are two contemplative healing solutions that we have to help regain mental balance.

Click below to watch “Moment,” a beautiful documentary from Sarah Winkler and Making Art Films that will be just the thing if you’re currently unable to access nature, and click the link at the bottom of the page to view more of
Sarah Winkler’s artwork on Artsy.

Look out for more Art Therapy in your inbox, we hope it helps.