Breaking the Wave, 2008
Miss Darrow hooked me up with Sarah Emerson, a supremely talented Atlanta artist and mom. Since Sarah has a four year old and a bun in the oven, Miss Darrow thought maybe we could bond over some of those universal mommy things and I could get the lowdown on what it’s like to be a fabulous artist and mama. I don’t know how to paint gorgeous murals or paintings, but I know all about morning sickness, not being able to see your toes, and trying to work while mommying.
Mamalikey: Susannah tells me we should talk about cankles, but I have you pegged as one of those cute pregnant women who are adorable until delivery and beyond. She tells me you are still fairly early on in the pregnancy, how far along are you? I had ankles as big as basketballs and I looked like a big swollen monster when I was pregnant. So spill, do you have cankles? Is this a nice breezy pregnancy? Better than the first?
Sarah Emerson: Actually, I feel a bit like a pot bellied piggy, I’m 6 months along now but I look a little bigger I think. With Harlow I was happy go lucky and my hair grew fast-it was great and I never got any morning sickness but with this one:)… Until recently I was sick as a dog and I could barely get off the couch. I feel great now but it’s definitely been an adventure.
ML: I remember feeling very very creative when I was pregnant, although the result was mostly half-finished knitted booties and baby blankets. Has being pregnant changed your working style or your level of productivity? I also had wicked morning sickness in my first trimester, so I spent a couple of months laying on the floor under my desk. Any of that? Is the smell of paint making you sick?
SE: I’ve been doing a lot of drawing and planning but over the summer it was hard for me to work and I was not as productive as I usually am. Fortunately, that 2nd trimester burst of energy hit me and I’ve been able to really start working on my newer paintings and mural ideas.
ML: Your art is absolutely amazing. I especially love the way you contrast lovely and fragile images like flowers and dainty deer and horses with more violent images like ice and stone. Has being a mom affected your arrival at any of this imagery? Maybe the violence of labor and the lovely little result?
SE: In my work I can see now that I’ve always been interested in ways to find calm in tragedy and disaster and I do admit that after I had Harlow there was a brief period in my work where you can see a sense of euphoria and beauty without disaster. However, as I let the imagery evolve in the studio, the tsunami appears and I return that tension to my work.
ML: Your murals are also fantastic, with lots of movement and emotion. I see what looks to be your daughter in front of the mural from the Spruill Art Center. How old is she? How does your daughter like your work? Do you paint anything especially for her? Is she a budding artist herself?
SE: Harlow is 4 and she loves to work in my studio, she’s curious about the imagery and she seems to have a very instinctual understanding of the kind of paintings I make. She likes it when we do little paintings together so I have a little area set up in the studio just for her so we can work together. Like every 4 year old she loves to draw so I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it sticks.
ML: What’s new for you? Anything big coming up (aside from a baby)?
SE: Right now I am working on a mural for the Agnes Scott Library and I will be in a group show in Nashville at The Arts Company in November. I also have a show scheduled at Whitespace for September of next year so I’m just huddled away with that in mind.
OK, so keep an eye out for Sarah Emerson’s art. It really is lovely, and if you haven’t been to Whitespace
, you should. It’s a really cool little gallery off of Edgewood in Inman Park. It’s easy to miss, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the little sign, and note that it’s next to a large home in an old barn. It’s worth finding.