If you happen to find yourself anywhere near Sarah Lovett’s art, you can’t miss it! Her giant puppets are large, colorful, glowing and powered by humans collaborating their movements in harmony.
Tell us a little bit about you and what you do. How would you describe your art?
My art currently takes the form of creatures that show up in dreams or have significance in life and transformation. The process of creation and construction is a large part of my enjoyment in making and innovating. Beautifully crafted giant puppets are lightweight and articulated, illuminated – engineered to be easy to move for play. The giant puppets are designed to delight children and adults. When children giggle, I have succeeded.
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Creativity has brought me to an intersection between the seen world and the invisible. In the other side of my life and practice I am working with intuition and perception as a psychic and healer and as a teacher of energy tools. As an artist I use and develop my ability to receive and process information through a unique perceptive lens, bringing art, images and ideas into form. For now, I make them fun and playful, giant toys, to engage the senses of players and viewers.
On a larger scale, the creative process is a step towards being an embodied creator in alignment with all other life forms. Creation as an artist and manifestation through energy and awareness is a part of the move towards seeing the world into existence. New ways of living on the planet is the edge where we play, precariously holding the edge between wonder and desire, fear and love.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Light bulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I’ve always been creative, a craftsperson and an artist. My early childhood was full of creative materials and encouragement. I come from a family of builders, craftsman and designers, and my mother sewed our clothing. So we were constantly making or decorating, ornaments, valentines, costumes, cards. I was playing with fabrics, making clothing, toy furniture and hand puppets for as long as I remember. Consequently, I have worked with all kinds of materials and tools. And for much of my early childhood, I was also outside playing in the woods. The combination of nature and art has stayed with me. I still love materials, color, texture and form. They are tactile and connected to the physical world while expressing the ineffable.
Transformation. Every so often, the art exceeds the vision. In 1998 I was making paper maché heads as fine art and working as a graphic artist, designing computer based tutorials, when I had the opportunity to join the brand new Fremont Solstice Parade. In my second year of Solstice, I was planning to make an octopus ball gown, and talking with Llyle Morgan, one of the mentors and parade founders. Then Llyle offered me a roll of material from Boeing Surplus. It was fuselage insulation liner, a very light and thin, transparent material, and there were 600 yards on a 20-inch roll. That translates into scale. Thus, the Giant Octopus Puppet was my first street sized piece of work.
The fun of performing this piece in the parade was beyond what I had imagined. It took the meaning of the work to a level of performance and playfulness that changed my direction. Instead of using the work as a way of relating to the world, I began using the work as format for a social and connective process based on inspiration. Even though these are simple ideas, a spirit animal expressed, through form and movement – I hope they inspire people to imagine and create. In that moment the octopus was just so much fun to perform, I kept looking to repeat that peak experience.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people – or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
Creativity comes naturally to people. We are some of the most amazing hive builders on the planet. We are creative. So early exposure to creative processes and materials does make a difference. Especially work in 3-D seems to be enhanced by early exposure. I attribute sewing and patternmaking to being able to see and work 3 dimensionally. I also made ceramics in high school, during the creative craft movement of the 1970’s, and I’ve worked with ceramics as a personal craft. We build on our natural creativity as we gain skill in specific directions. Whether writing, building, teaching, cooking or singing – even thinking – there is a creative aspect to all that we do. Innovation will change the world. It is a combination of nature and innovation that moves us forward.
What inspires you to create?
I work from a vision. I have a strong relationship to nature and beauty. So this is where I begin my design process. There is nothing like bone as a perfect material designed for movement, strength and structure. Of course it’s a living material, and I see the creative process is a living thing, taking on aspects of my life and growing me in specific ways.
Are there recurring themes in your work?
Transformation is the theme in my life and maybe in all of our lives. Creativity happens to be my area of expertise, so it’s the thing that speaks to me and has transformed my life. It’s a practice on a physical plane, as in meditation, when you tune in and see what materials, events, opportunities are offered. Creativity strengthens the sight centers, the imagination, and the intuition. In a creative process we can follow that intuitive nudge easily, and that is dynamic, fun and energetic. When we go into a creative flow state, we are also present and aware.
Do you do series work?
I am project oriented. If I am doing a series, it’s for the vision.
Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?
I was always looking for the mystical, and I do find meaning and message in my work. So it’s not something hidden. Did you know that any creature that can’t be named is a “dragon”? Perhaps we all have dragons chasing us into our perfection. The key is to own it, not so much tame as accept the dragon as a container of possibility. My early work was much more message oriented than the puppets, which speak more of a relationship to the imagination.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating?
I am in a live/work studio, and that works well for me. It’s always nice to have a separate work space if you can, and I’ve tried that; it can help with focus.
If so, what does it look like?
A creative chaos I believe is the term. Maybe that’s not ideal, but I love to have materials on hand for inspiration.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, movies? What kind?
Music, audio books – I’ve listened to lots of spiritual practice audio books as I work. Currently, Alicia Powers, Cyndi Dale, Christie Marie Sheldon, Abraham, speakers of light language. I am spiritually curious. I find it stimulates my imagination. But silence is fine too. I sometimes forget to turn on the radio.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
I keep a sketchbook handy. It’s a way to collect my ideas between projects and develop the work as it comes.
How does that help your work develop?
Once I know what I want to create, the sketchbook keeps it moving. And it’s a great reference when old ideas sometimes find a place in current projects. There is aliveness to a running sketchbook.
Do you have any special rituals that help you achieve your creative goals? How do you get unstuck creatively?
I try not to label my process as either stuck or not stuck. Life is a process of bumping up against walls and finding the way through or around them. It’s the journey! Since having a breakdown in the early 1990’s, I don’t maintain very strong boundaries between life, spirit and art. I seem to have lost the separation between dimensions, so I have had to make it a strength. Things can flow together. It all informs the work. I still remember when my grad school professor finally named my process “to make the invisible visible.” That is a challenge. My puppet characters are typically spirit animals that I meet in dreams or visions.
As a creative individual, do you believe that you perceive the world differently from other people? Do you think that any unique thought processes are involved when you create something?
That is a great question because we are all unique, and that is what makes the world so incredible. The uniqueness of each expression adds to our understanding of our relationship to life, being, others… no one’s expression is exactly the same as another. Recently I heard that described as each person’s energy signature being unique. As a psychic, when I am reading another person’s aura, I see their pictures, the energy patterns they hold as true in that moment, and I see them through my own file of energy pictures. Psychic reading is a unique conversation among these sets of images. I see art as the same; we see and express through our own unique experience and perspective.
What do you learn about who you are through your creative endeavors?
I think it’s challenging to separate the maker from the work. It’s all for love on some level. I love the process of creation. Process arts and meditation have been a huge part of my experience and are fundamental to healing from a breakdown. It’s intuitive, and when I work intuitively there is flow, and flow is about connection to self, to source, to truth. I find joy in that.
I’ve been a reluctant performer, so that’s one of the areas I need to push myself. As I have relaxed into the experience however, it’s been rewarding. That has been a growth process, managing and allowing the puppeteers to play and push the puppets to see what they can do, how they move. They have to function for that to work. So I try to keep it fun, to defy gravity, create volume with very little weight, and to find that spot where the work feels good to the performers. I sometimes hear that it’s a treat to perform these puppets, and I hope that is true.
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered on your creative journey?
I’ve probably been my own biggest challenge. The time and money problem was not easy for me early in life, but I always seem to move forward despite feeling lost. I spent over a decade putting myself back together with Vipassana meditation and psychic work. Because when life hits you with a breakdown you just have to own it and create a way through. I’m lucky that I’ve always had at least some level of support.
What did you learn from it?
Ultimately I’ve learned that support comes from within. Things have come together beautifully in the moment. So I’m enjoying the focus of puppetry where performances create deadlines and opportunities.
How has your work changed over time?
My work has always been figurative and symbolic. I began with the subject of opening and transformation because it was indicative of what I was going through in my life. Now I am learning to play, flow and create through love.
Tell us about your blog and/or website. What do you hope visitors will gain by visiting?
I do put current work and performances up on my website. I’d like it to be a dynamic growing space. There are bits and pieces of things on the site, but the focus is a running list of events and performances. It’s both creative and intuitive work on the same site… that boundaries issue again.
What is next for you?
I am dedicated to having great personal boundaries, by understanding the energy of interaction and co-creation. I do maintain love for the rich environment being human has to offer, despite the current challenges we face. My inner desire is to create work that integrates creativity and intuition – then perhaps visionary work is yet to come. I know for sure it won’t be conceptual, but the bridge between dreams, visions and reality calls me.
Interview published August 2019.
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