Sarah Merola

For the past few years, my work has revolved around the human condition. An unromantic view that looks at vulnerability and distress. To me, we are all fragile and porous, soaking in the bad as well as the good. Life is a wonderful and hopeful thing, but also, often painful and unfair. We might be loved or unloved. Wanted, or thrown away. I find this disparity fascinating. Why are some born into poverty, war, abuse, neglect and disease? Why are some privileged? Does our humanity and empathy unite us? Is all of this beautiful or horrible? Is horrible and beautiful an option?

Most recently I have been making sculpture in an attempt to explore and understand vulnerability and susceptibility through the metaphor of children. The pieces are often damaged or weathered to show how we spoil innocence and leave people scarred and changed. Many of these children are armless, in passive or exposed positions to represent how powerless we are to the situations we are born into. Life pours in and we absorb it. It runs through our bodies and changes us from the inside out.

The sculptures in this series have zippers, man-made barriers that appear to secure, but with one tug, the internal can come spilling out or the external can come rushing in. The zippers show how we can be opened, accessed and filled. It is involuntary and inevitable, unfair but true. We admit to filling our children with good food, experiences, hopes and dreams. But they are also delivered bad experiences, our fears, hatreds, and insecurities.

A wide and unjust range of experience seems to be the only constant in the human condition. It’s better for some, worse for others. But, we are all susceptible and I find that worth talking about through art. The resulting work is beautiful and horrible at the same time.
Aside from specific conceptual goals, I also make art because I enjoy working with the materials and the problem solving and risk involved in building new forms. In my current series, I have used real zippers, ceramic and bronze. When I include a zipper in the bronze casting process, I am never sure whether it will remain in the work or burn up. Will it be erased? Will that leave the work disfigured? If so is that good or bad? In “Ensconced”, only the remnants or record of a zipper exists. In some of the clay pieces, like “Discarded", the zipper has unpredictably melted into the body leaving a wound, and again, a record behind. This risk is part of what attracts me to the process. When the results are good, I accept the work and move on to glaze or patina. This process of making something deliberately, followed by a moment of lost control and potential surprise, suits me well. I find that in this way, I am able to make work that is richer and more authentically connected to the subject matter.

Location and Contact Information

Participating Weekends
Weekend One, June 1 and 2, 11am - 5pm
Artwork Price Range
Studio or Exhibition Space Address
3035 Chapman Street, #6, Oakland, CA.
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Accessibility Information
Some stairs must be climbed to access the space.