Sarah Schorr is an American photographer, educator and researcher living in Denmark. Currently, she is completing her Munn Foundation/Versailles Fellowship Artist Residency at Claude Monet’s Garden and House in Giverny, France. She is an everyday swimmer, which drew her to the subject of the nature of water. Monet designed and was inspired by his gardens which included water as a focal point. Furthermore, Schorr’s fascination comes from water and light –– transparent, translucent, reflective and opaque.
Schorr’s work has been widely exhibited since his first solo exhibition at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York. Recently, the ebbtide image (ebb tide) de Schorr received the Director’s Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography which will lead to an exhibition and a catalog. In 2020, Schorr’s work was honored with the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers in the category of Nude (First Prize) as part of an exhibition at Fotonostrum Gallery in Barcelona, Spain. Sarah holds a BA from Wesleyan University, an MA in Photography, Video and Allied Media from the School of Visual Arts and a PhD in Media Studies from Aarhus University. His book “The Color of Water,” with lyrics by Elizabeth Avedon and Anne Marie Kragh Pahuus, accompanied a solo exhibition (2021) of his work at Galleri Image in Denmark and a solo exhibition (2022) at the Northern Photographic Center in Finland.
Sarah’s website: https://www.sarahschorr.com
The Color of Water book and prints: https://www.sarahschorr.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=49550&Akey=48347V9L&ajx=1#!asset84386
Upcoming exhibition: The Color of Water at the Griffin Museum of Art, December 2022
LANZA: How has working in Monet’s garden affected your art?
SCHORR: There is so much to observe about the cycle of life in Monet’s Garden. He donated his large lily panels to Paris after World War I as a symbol of peace. When I photograph, paint and interview gardeners, I view the garden as a reflecting pool for peace, light and color. I am interviewing all the gardeners, trying to understand how they plan and take care of such clever conservation of plant life. Manu, one of the water gardeners, told me that working daily at the water’s edge made him aware of the fragility and beauty of nature. By working in Monet’s garden, I think I’m starting to adapt to this fragility, a calmer way of seeing how the color changes over the hours and how the plants move in relation to the light. Since my arrival in the garden, I even have the impression of walking differently in the garden in the sense that I know more where and how to walk with less difficulty. In my work, I explore this softer way of approaching our natural environment as a type of peace work.
LANZA: Discussing the new series of photographs including the creation of mixed media, cinematic graphics?
SCHORR: Three things repeat in my mind as I do my new job: 1. Seeing is an impermanent practice. 2. Like water, photographs are never truly still. 3. Love is longer than time. Before making the cinemagraphs, I studied Monet’s process for creating his gardens and water lily ponds as a living color laboratory. With particular interest in Monet’s experiment on the impermanence of visual acuity. Changed by love, loss and time, Monet was unsettled by how the loss altered his outlook, ultimately and arguably. While in Monet’s Constructed Garden, my work questions, mourns and celebrates the structural changes in the architecture of our eyes over time. How do the devices and procedures developed to combat this physical degradation affect our perceptions of color, light and space? How is vision changed by love and loss?
LANZA: Your work evolved from painting to photographic arts and over time about water, how did that happen?
SCHORR: I love water. I love the fluidity of mixing paint and I’ve always loved painter’s palettes and mixing colors. My uncle was a messy painter. I remember thinking his tools – paints, inks and even silverpoint – were fascinating. But I’m also interested in emerging photographic technologies and how they can make the photographic process lighter and more dynamic in innovative ways. I try to use Photoshop and programming with a light touch to keep the idea focused on the idea, even if that idea is as tactile as the sensual quality of wet paint. By using paint and emergent photographic tools together, I can record what the paint looks like when it is at its most vibrant. The active quality of paint resonates with the elusive ability of water to traverse life between joyful and difficult times. I am drawn to the mystery of water.
LANZA: The Color of Water: The Algorithmic Seainvites the viewer to contribute through your website, what have you discovered from this involvement?
SCHORR: For me, one of the exciting aspects of working on The Color of Water: Algorithmic Sea is that it is both a physical installation and net art. With my collaborating artists/researchers/creative coders, Carlos Oliveira and Gabriel Pereira, we can adapt versions of this work to the particularities of the place where we physically install it. For example, during our recent exhibition at the Northern Photographic Center in Finland, the local snow melted in the swimming pool we built for it. In this way, we invite people and the landscape into the conversation about the sociotechnical perception of color, in particular how it is actualized through computer systems and their algorithms. The sea of colors shown in the installation is made up of a multitude of user-generated colors. These colors ripple between the user and computer algorithmic processes in different site-specific iterations…so, like water, the artwork is constantly changing.
LANZA: Tell us about your latest project, The Fragility Laboratory ?
SCHORR: My new project is called Fragility Laboratory. It consists of both cinemagraphs and a peace diary. The cinemagraphs are ovals quivering with small movements that evoke the feeling of a breathing landscape; these cinemagraphs reflect the quality of near-stillness of Monet’s water garden. Each cinemagraph is created by digitally assembling painted and layered photographic images to encapsulate a scintillating moment. The Journal of Peace involves gestures of paint and flowers that fell from Monet’s garden. Each study is a meditation on an ephemeral moment inspired by interviews with the gardeners of Monet’s Garden. The diary tries to capture the fleeting quality of light on a flower while recognizing that color, like our emotions, is always in a state of fluctuation.
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