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Meet Robyn Sanford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robyn Sanford.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
As a child I gravitated towards opportunities to be creative and loved making, drawing, painting, etc. any chance I could. As I got older, unfortunately, several authority figures discouraged me from pursuing any type of creative career. I’m sure all of them meant well and they thought they were doing the right thing to try to protect me from the societal cliche of the “starving artist”.

So I believed I wasn’t able to be an artist and decided to pursue a path to become a curator as that would still keep me close to art. It was years before I realized what I truly wanted for myself, it happened the moment I mailed in my graduate school applications – I was filled with dread instead of hope at the possibility of being accepted and knew something was wrong.

For a while I continued my career at a prominent museum, creating art in the evenings and weekends. I kept it mostly to myself, it took a lot of courage to show anyone the work and to start telling people about my interest in an art career. Eventually, enough people, especially other artists and curators encouraged me enough to give me the strength to turn my interest into a serious pursuit. Friends and co-workers were really key at this time and the more people I told, the more help I received and the more my confidence grew.

My work began to get recognition and I was hired for several commissioned projects. With a lot of encouragement, I decided that I may actually be able to pursue art as a full-time thing and began to adjust my life in preparation for a change in how I earned an income. Thanks to a lot of hard work I was eventually able to leave my job and have never looked back. I have been very proud to say that it isn’t always easy, but never once have I starved as an artist.

Please tell us about your art.
My work endeavors to explore changes in the boundaries of interpersonal relationships, predominantly in our modern age. I am inspired by observations of interacting in the real and virtual worlds and exploring how these two sides of ourselves might connect or resist one-another.

I am particularly interested in different concepts of physical touch and what that means to society and culture today. As technology (the internet, email, broadcasting, etc…) grows, the potential for our physical contact and non-verbal communication decreases. I aim to explore the concepts and potential ramifications (good and bad) of what this means to our development socially and environmentally. I examine this using a variety of materials and processes that are intended to directly or indirectly act and react to viewers and remind them of the emphasis placed on physical interaction, even if it is absent.

I really enjoy the paradox of exploring these ideas through art, which traditionally is not meant to be touched. I find it ideal for questioning the gradual disappearance of physical interactions. Some of my installation and sculpture projects are meant to be touched and interacted with directly while others are meant to encourage the desire to touch the work even though contextual social norms wouldn’t allow it (such as in the gallery or museum environment).

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Obviously, I wish that I didn’t let fear keep me from pursuing my dreams for so long but I also believe that for many reasons, this was the right time for me. If you are discouraged in your pursuits if you think you are not trying hard enough, or are not getting enough results, keep pushing and trust that it will happen when it is right for you. I’ve talked to many artists and have found that most have trouble from time to time motivating themselves to do the work, that being an artist doesn’t mean they had some magical desire to be artistically productive above all other interests.

Even if making work is incredibly rewarding you still need to implement a structure that puts you in the studio and get the work done. The main thing to keep in mind is that you cannot re-capture the time, in 1, 3, 6 months etc. you will still wish you had made the work but you can’t get back the time you could’ve spent on it.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can follow me on Instagram or check out my website for news about upcoming shows or other opportunities to see my work. I was recently one of the installation artists selected to participate in the annual event BoldPas in Pasadena. You can see images of my work *HUGS* along with many other great artists on their Facebook gallery https://tinyurl.com/yb58pdot.

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