Sari Shryack is an oil and acrylic painter based out of Austin, Texas. Her colorful works cover many different subjects and techniques including landscape, still life, portraits, disco balls and even memes.
Born in 1991, Sari attended Drury University and studied under painting professor Todd Lowery; she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts in 2014. Sari lives with her husband and two young children.
I’m fascinated with society’s simultaneous obsession and disdain for consumer culture, how the accumulation of goods is a sign of status among the elite and the absence of it for those at the bottom of the hierarchy. This work highlights my childhood spent in poverty as represented by the bright and bold colors that can be found in beauty products, candy, toys and stores, scenes that are inherently beautiful and yet cheap and outdated. These paintings offer a glimpse into an empty calorie version of success that is looked down upon because of its accessibility.
Utilizing a still life format allows me to incorporate many different items and themes into a composition while rejecting the narrative that still life work is purely academic and non-conceptual. My paintings invite the viewer to consider the elements of color and light both individually and as part of a compositional whole. My intent is to encourage a recalibration of our understanding of value so that worth can be stripped of its association with cost.
This series is inspired primarily by my personal experiences growing up as a child in the late 90s and early 2000s; the bold colors signify my emotional response to scenes that beg to be consumed, to be seen and heard. My life has been filled with a strong combination of uncertainty and hope, two conflicting sensations that my art attempts to address.
How has your relationship with art changed over time?
My relationship with art has deepened and evolved pretty dramatically over time. I’m approaching a decade of painting post-graduation and in that time, I’ve learned to better utilize art as a tool for communication. I’ve amassed more knowledge and skill; I’ve found community through my practice and become a teacher to help grow the love of art in other people. Art has transitioned into my full-time career in the last four years so its impact on my life has been building for some time. I’m really excited to see what the next 10, 20, 30 years holds for me in my career.
Where do you find inspiration? What drives your work?
I find inspiration in the mundane of my everyday life and in my inner world. I’m pretty lucky as an artist that I don’t really have to leave my immediate surroundings to find inspiration — that’s a really important part of my career. As a kid growing up in poverty, I remember feeling left out when all my friends would travel and I was almost always stuck at home. I spent a lot of time laying around the house and drawing and I had to learn how to find excitement and adventure in a very small world. I’ve carried that skill into my art.
Many factors drive my work. I really enjoy the process of improving my skills in the studio so I’m always exploring new techniques and refining my style. I also view my art as a conversation that I’m constantly having with the world so maintaining dialogue about class issues is a steady motivator.
What is your favorite part of your process?
I like all of my process and I really enjoy the grind of being in the studio. If I had to pinpoint one specific element of my process, it would be existing in the world knowing that anything could be inspiration. I think it’s made my life feel more magical than perhaps it should, haha. The constant hunt for meaning in the world around me is my favorite part of being an artist.
What is one thing about your art and/or practice that our audience may not know?
That’s tough for me because I share almost everything about my practice with my audience. But I would say that I still feel like I am very much at the beginning of my career and even nearly 10 years into life as a professional artist, I’m just starting to formulate the questions that I want to ultimately answer with my work.
What does your dream piece/project look like?
My dream project would probably look similar to what I’m doing now, but it would be collaborative and would ideally include 3-dimensional art. I’m really happy with the themes I’m exploring with painting right now, but I would really like to work with other artists and include different mediums within my body of work.