Sarah Tortora, another fantastic participant in our North Adams Project, is a sculptor from Guilford, Connecticut. Sarah moved to North Adams in the fall, excited by the promise of intensive studio time in a new place.
Sarah’s work consists of fabricated sculptures and structures that lie between functional and abstract. Utilizing references to architecture, art history, furniture, utilitarian fixtures, and mechanisms of display, her sculptures beg for human intervention, but remain amalgams whose function lies in a perpetually frustrated construction of meaning. These works become sites for projection — as facsimiles of archetypal objects and icons, or blank signs that reveal only the structure of their own presentation.
Sarah received her MFA in Time-Based & Interactive Media from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. She has shown in the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in New York, the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Vermont, the Venice Arts Gallery in California, and several galleries and museums in Philadelphia. Recently, Sarah had her first solo exhibition, called “Yearning on the Diagonal,” at Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University in the Haas Gallery of Art. Her work has been featured on Culturehall and you can view her featured portfolio here. In the past year, Sarah has completed three separate residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Jentel Foundation, and Yaddo. She is currently an Adjunct Professor and Studio Lab Coordinator at Southern Connecticut State University Sculpture Department.
Sarah is looking to expand her practice and incorporate smaller works into her repertoire. Recently, Sarah acquired a small kiln and has been experimenting with glass. Starting with objects as basic as marbles or buttons, she is hoping to work toward creating functional items of increasing complexity. This process has allowed Sarah to maintain her large-scale sculpture work while also creating more affordable, versatile design work.
Sarah acquired a 600 sq ft studio space in the Beaver Mill, where she has several sculptures, and messes, in progress. Some are smaller wall pieces designed from thin plywood or composite board (such as Junction — see right — which she completed recently)… and a couple of more ambitious pieces (consisting of plywood, 2x4s, and composite materials) are in the works.
When asked about the future of her creative practice and her recent move to North Adams, Sarah said: “I feel that I make the greatest breakthroughs in my process in rural or small-town environments. As one example, I look at the rudimentary construction of old barns cushioned by fields of space, and the haphazard stature of buildings never intended as permanent structures, pulled toward the ground over time. I look for the minute moments — the small spaces between sagging clapboards, the very moment in space where materials that were once forced together are settling apart, and impart those same qualities in my work, albeit in a much more rigid mode of construction.”
Awesome stuff, Sarah! We look forward to seeing how North Adams will continue to inspire you. Check out Sarah’s website to keep an eye on her work.