Sara Schneckloth: This past summer, I broke ground for my drawing studio just outside the small town of Regina, New Mexico, about 20 miles northeast of Cuba. While Agnes Martin’s appearance in Cuba in 1968 didn’t directly influence my decision to build the area, I feel a kinship to her in the act of working in such close proximity across the years, sharing company with the same sandstone mesas, pinons and juniper trees. While my immersion is in no way as total as hers, I hope to think that for the time I am there each year, I can come closer to realizing the kind of artwork that reflects the raw wonder and nuanced beauty of northern New Mexico.
I live for nine months out of the year in Columbia, South Carolina, where I am an artist and associate professor at USC; the rest of the year I am in the Nacimiento Mountains, making mixed media drawings that combine geology and biology, forms that echo both our natural and built environments. You asked if artwork comes from the head or the heart, and I firmly believe it is both, the body and mind fully engaged in the act of seeing, feeling, moving, and making.
In my practice, drawing is an intimate act of vision and touch combined, leaving a mark that echoes and builds upon a lived experience. For the past several years, I have been traveling to New Mexico to make drawings that weave elements of the observed landscape – the canyons, arroyos, skies, and stones – with an imagined biological language of mark. The drawings reflect both the colors and textures of place as well as my own sense of body within the environment.
By finally finding land to call my own in Regina, New Mexico, and building a space in which to live and work, I have deepened my commitment to immersing in this landscape and translating into my drawings the light, texture and space that are the hallmarks of the place. I believe the discipline of drawing allows for a physical space to nurture ideas as they form and evolve, and is uniquely suited to express our immediate and ineffable sensations.
Title: Pedernal Chert 1-5. Date: 2016 Medium/Materials: Ink, colored pencil, watercolor and wax on paper. Size: 19 x 13 inches. Picture Credit: Sara Schneckloth.