Boston artist Sara Kontoff Baker made a recent decision to join “us” here in the sunny south after one too many gray northeastern days. Some of life’s twists and turns are foisted upon us and some are agonizingly chosen, but there are those who decide to change it up, hit the refresh button, take a leap of faith, create a new normal....just to see what happens. As an artist whose work has always been about transformation, I think we have Baker’s M.O. here.
Three months into her new Miami life, Sara has already refurbed a sunny aerie on the beach and achieved Honorable Mention for her work in the Miami New Times MASTERMIND 2012 Awards, spotlighting inspiring creatives. Baker shares the fact that she feels “rejuvenated” here; as we all do, day after day, watching the sun glint through lazily drifting palm fronds.
Sara Baker left a full life in Boston. After graduating from MIT with a Master of Science Degree in Visual Studies, she moved on to years of teaching Art History at Northeastern and the Art Institute of Boston/Lesley University; while keeping her deep interest in music, literature and poetry actively engaged.
Originally Baker was “more interested in process and physics than standard painting and sculpture”, she reflected. Sara was inspired by lightworks artist Alejandro Siña who was guest lecturing at MIT. “He had all these tiny tubes in gorgeous colors. I fell in love with neon.” She was off and running using this new medium to inform her work.
As I perused Baker’s pieces, I could see each and every influence from childhood on as we talked about her voyage through life. Growing up in Vermont, she was lucky to have a parent who was quietly observant, taking time to point out to his child the wonders of the topography before her and awakening the artist within. You can see much of this undulating movement in the transmogrification of her artistic progression. Soon music joined nature as dual passions which have followed her through life. As I stared at the neon work, deconstructed musical notes began to emerge in the form of straight lines and half circles. Chalk pastels from her time in Greece have similar gestures. Rhythm and movement are constant companions of Sara Baker.
“I like motion and movement in two dimensional objects”, this artist reveals. A sojourn into marble and wood sculpting was followed by free standing stained glass using wood to separate instead of lead. She was again exploring transformation; how climate changes the image by what the sky revealed through colored glass.
Presently, holograms are front and center in the new millennium. As Baker puts it: “the I-Thou thing. You see your own reflection in something....at the same time, you see the intrinsic part of it”.
In her other current work, she is using time sensitive paper. Sara is still investigating playing with light, but in a new way. “Looking at the marks that humans left on the landscape got into my spirit. I am thinking about perspective and how it transforms over time.” She moves the light sensitive paper as it is exposed, adding colored pencil, “enhancing the 3 dimensionality”. The end result is a compelling and delicate summation.
We look forward to seeing how this new environment, differing palette and experiences color this artist’s vision.
Photos by Irene Sperber
Info links of interest:
NEW TIMES MASTERMIND AWARDS 2012 Winners will be showcased at ARTOPIA , March 8th: http://microapp.miaminewtimes.com/artopia/2012/
Info from MIT exhibition called Light Imagery, 2 and 3 Dimensional Work: http://web.mit.edu/deansgallery/baker/baker.html