Professor of Studio Art – Sculpture
With Pitzer Since: 2014
Email: [email protected]
BA, Brown University
BFA, Rhode Island School of Design
MFA, University of Idaho
Sarah Gilbert is an artist and educator based in Los Angeles, California, where she is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the art field group at Pitzer College. Gilbert has taught previously at Reed College, Oregon College of Art and Craft, and Pacific Northwest College of Art. She is a graduate of the University of Idaho (sculpture), Rhode Island School of Design (glass), and Brown University (art semiotics/modern culture and media studies).
Gilbert’s work explores changing definitions of the human and posthuman, focusing in on questions of materiality and subjectivity. A consummate maker, she is interested not only in how objects shape our experiences, but also the ways in which we define ourselves through the labor of our bodies. Drawing on a wide range of materials and processes, her practice synthesizes traditional craft techniques with emerging technologies. Many of her projects serve to unsettle teleological narratives, highlighting material memory and tensions between figuration and abstraction as springboards for contemplating our experience of time.
Gilbert has exhibited widely throughout the United States and Europe. Recent Solo exhibitions include Turnings at the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA), After Image at the Feldenheimer Gallery (Portland, OR) and Equations for a Falling Body at Thomas Hunter Projects (New York, NY). She has also participated in numerous group exhibitions including, most recently, Generis 1 at Exchange Rates: The Bushwick Expo (Brooklyn, NY), Artificial Natures at the Tartu Art House (Tartu, Estonia), Whither the American Dream at Punch Gallery (Seattle, WA), and Imagined Communities at Gallery Project (Ann Arbor, MI). She received a grant from The Oregon Arts Commission to support a recent installation in the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, Mexico, and was the inaugural artist for the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation’s 4Front: Innovation From All Angles residency at the Chrysler Museum of Art.
My primary aim as an artist/educator is to cultivate an active enthusiasm for rigorous, life-long learning amongst my students. I nurture my students’ artistic development by assigning projects that, even after more than a decade of professional practice, I find stimulating, and by cultivating engaged classroom discussions and critiques that address why these issues are so exciting. Each of my studio assignments is accompanied by an image lecture to contextualize the project’s parameters, and I often assign related readings that serve as springboards for classroom discussion and concept development. I devote a significant portion of class time to discussing the broader historical and contemporary stakes surrounding project assignments, helping students to think critically about their own work and positions. I find that most students, even those initially resistant to reading in studio courses, in fact flourish in contexts where they can raise controversial issues and contribute to challenging dialogs.
I encourage a view of refined craftsmanship as a means to an end, and I balance technical demonstrations and assignments with an emphasis on the meanings invested in materials and processes. I am committed to helping students at all levels build their skills safely and effectively. I believe students make the best work when they have been exposed to a wide range of technical processes, giving them an awareness of what options are open to them, and empowering them to pursue more advanced work in whatever materials and processes are most appropriate to their ideas. I love teaching at a small liberal arts college where I have the opportunity to work closely with students, familiarizing myself with their backgrounds and interests, and hopefully guiding them towards processes and ideas that inspire them. I take my students seriously, and nurture these relationships through mutual respect, creating an environment of trust within the studio that I believe is a precondition for risk taking, productive critiques, and artistic growth.