Sarah van Sloten
My work presents a disjointed yet familiar narrative which weaves together semi-autobiographical stories of childhood, being a woman, and motherhood. The timeline presented in these narratives is not relayed in a linear fashion. As memory is subjective, a compilation of methods for documentation seems to be the most worthy endeavour.
My process of making is impatient, hyper-focussed, and unpredictable. Where lack of knowledge, technical ability, or proper procedure occurs, I am happy to engineer an unconventional solution. This way of working lays bare an earnestness and an attempt at authenticity.
I collect a variety of objects and materials, and have an interest in displaying my work in unexpected ways. I think about my work in relation to the way a small child values a prized rock collection, which is carefully displayed along a window sill. Or, how a collection of chewed gum could find its place, organized with intention, across the headboard of a bed. When I stumble upon these types of tableaux I notice their peculiar ritualistic nature, and their altar-like reverence. Perhaps this is an attempt to control a particular situation, a creative outlet, or an external visualization of some internal anxiety. This part of my research takes place in everyday moments.
My work moves between being serious and not; while it is oftentimes friendly and bright it is also thoughtful. Its playful nature works against the interpretation of any one definitive statement. I explore important subjects and themes in awkward, poetic, humourous, self-deprecating, and eccentric ways.
Sarah van Sloten is a settler living and working on Treaty 7 territory in Calgary, AB. Van Sloten works primarily with paint, paper mâché, clay, collage, fibre, and found objects. Her studio practice is instigated by a curiosity about her current surroundings, including observing, collecting, and organizing, especially as it relates to the habits and patterns of childhood. She strives for truthfulness, realism, and sometimes humour in the way narratives are presented within her work. Van Sloten graduated with a BFA from the Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) (2010) and an MFA from the University of Windsor (2016). She has exhibited work most recently at Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, BC (2021) and with the WRECK CITY Residency (2018). She currently sits on the Board of Directors at The New Gallery, an artist-run centre in Calgary Chinatown. Van Sloten works as a tutor and academic strategist at AUArts, as well as a studio instructor in Continuing Education.