Week 12 | Artist Conversation: Sage Garner

Sage Garner is a fourth year transfer student at Long Beach State. She is graduating very soon with her Sculpture BFA. She has had a love for art since she was a child, but when she started college and decided to take a few art classes, she was able to discover that this is something that she really wanted to pursue. She had initially started with art taking classes that were centered around drawing, but toward the end of her community college years, she found sculpting and decided that this is what she wanted her area of expertise to be. She’s a 24 year old student who loves hiking, swimming, and traveling.

Garner’s exhibit is a series of polyurethane foam sculptures that seem to have grown from the walls of the exhibit room. Initially, the sculptures resembled somewhat of a monochromatic underwater scene. A lot of the shapes were reminiscent of shapes that I had seen in The Little Mermaid as a kid–they looked kelpy, and had a bit of a fluidity to them that made it seem as if they were underwater, or wet at the very least. In the middle of the room, we see a sort of transparent purple sculpture hanging from the room’s ceiling, adorned by golden chains and the small, important detail of a tiny golden fork hanging from the transparent purple sculpture.

After reading her artist statement and speaking to the artist, I was able to find that the exhibit was in fact not inspired by mermaids or kelp, but it was inspired by her own life, specifically, her own body. Garner had explained both in her artist statement and to me that she had grown up with illnesses (undisclosed illnesses, I didn’t want to ask out of respect for the artist’s privacy) that took control of her body. She had explained that the sculptures around the room resemble the walls purposefully, as they represent the illnesses that she has had to face throughout her life. The way that I was understanding it, the room is Garner, or rather a cell in Garner’s body. She had explained her purpose, her message as being that of an ambiguous autobiography–a self-told life story that no one really knows when initially looking at it. The monochromatic sculptures were meant to match the already white color of the walls to represent the fact that they are a part of the same room, the same body, the same system. The transparent purple sculpture in the middle of the room represents the control center of a cell, known as the nucleus. The golden fork hanging at the bottom of this sculpture representing the foods that Garner’s illnesses prevented her from eating throughout her life. This as well as the exhibit as a whole is an illustration of the control that she did not have over her body, over her life. It is an illustration of her struggles, a statement that she is taking it back.

Like I said earlier, this exhibit did remind me a lot of The Little Mermaid when I had initially walked into the room, and I felt pretty stupid interpreting the exhibit like that when I had found out what it was really inspired by. But looking back at it now, it seems to be making more and more sense to me. The inside of a cell may not be entirely made up of sea water or be inhabited by talking animals and mermaids, but it is fluid in the same way that I had imagined. Not only that, but the storyline of The Little Mermaid is about a young mermaid trying to take control of her own life. And I think that story is pretty evident here, despite the fact that instead of trying to gain control back from her father, she’s trying to gain control from her own body.

I personally loved everything about this artist’s statement and exhibit. So to Miss Sage Garner, thank you.


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