Staff Spotlight: Sarah Kershaw

Facilitator Sarah Kershaw has been at Gateway Arts for 7 years.  After learning about the program through friends, she found herself immediately struck by the artists’ work.  She was amazed at the idea of getting to work creatively with the artists’ we serve and has continued to be inspired by the talent and dedication she observes daily.  Her studio, which encompasses a newly converted space that once served as a gallery and smaller meeting rooms, is a place where artists experiment with a wide variety of mediums based on individual interests and ideas.

When Gateway Arts was presented with the opportunity to collaborate with Abilities Dance Boston last fall, Sarah quickly volunteered to facilitate the creation of 5 large paintings, to be displayed on stage during Abilities Dance’s original ballet, Inversion.  Sarah had previously hosted Ellice Patterson, executive director of Abilities Dance, as a visiting artist and was excited at the opportunity for further collaboration.  The canvases for this project were 5’ x 7’, significantly larger than any of the artists had ever worked, a new experience for the artists and for Sarah alike.  Sarah saw great value in giving the artists the opportunity to explore scale and to create pieces that could appeal to a new type of audience.  She also expressed a deep appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate with other staff in guiding the artists through planning and executing these ambitious paintings.  The project generated an excited energy throughout the studio and as the artists worked through their ideas, other staff leant their advice on color mixing and other techniques.

In her studio, Sarah continues to encourage large, bold, and ambitious projects that take artists on long journeys out of their comfort zones. Sarah herself works primarily in fibers mediums, devising ambitious projects that typically take a long time to complete. She feels this tendency of her own allows her to relate to artists’ experiences of working through longer term projects that involve developing new skills and working through a series of new challenges.  She admires the consistency with which many artists work and their ability to find joy in projects that don’t necessarily provide instant gratification.

Sarah indicated several pieces in our current exhibition, Minds Aglow, that exemplify this sort of slow and quiet labor. Sarah, who co-curated Minds Aglow with facilitator Leah Medin and Artistic Director Bil Thibodeau, feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage with the work in a different capacity.  From selecting the artwork to crafting a curatorial statement, she and her collaborators crafted a cohesive viewing experience that highlights both the individual achievements of the artists and the way that widely varied works can inform one another.

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