Gears on Acid: An Interview with artist Sarah Dolezal
Embracing the unconventional in one’s self, finding wonderland, and the unfulfilled want for ruminative connections.
I think the lid has just popped on keeping things socially acceptable. I think the macabre has been a part of things all along and people are not ashamed to show it anymore. — Sarah Dolezal
To classify Sarah’s artwork into a particular genre would be doing it disservice. Part steampunk, part Victorian, part vintage, part taxidermy, part oddity, part goth, brilliantly crafted with multiple found objects, Sarah’s works transcend any categorizations. Upon viewing her works, It isn’t difficult to ascertain that limitations and bounds are not part of Sarah’s artistic process, or vocabulary for that matter.
There is something stirring about her creations and perhaps it is their riveting peculiarity. The atypical manner Sarah combines classically beautiful vintage elements with what can be described as odd, bizarre, or grotesque forms results in a scintillating merging of tradition and innovation. There is nothing conventional or trite about Gears on Acid. An artist like Sarah doesn’t tell us through her works to think outside of the box. Instead, her creations question if boxes even exist to begin with.
On that note, I present Circus Living’s third “Hidden Gems of the Macabre Art World” featuring Sarah Dolezal of Gears on Acid.
What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?
The most challenging thing about creating my work is finding the perfect parts once an idea starts rolling. I don’t have a game plan and then build it. Most of the time the parts start to tell me a story and I go with the flow of that. I end up scouring the planet for pieces of things that can do a specific job like bend a certain way, or fit into a specific space.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a huge believer in respecting life. I don’t kill anything if I can avoid it (mosquitoes are an exception). Nothing I work with was killed for my work. I only work with things that are already dead (usually roadkill). I won’t even kill bugs. Eco-systems and natural processes are important things that I promote protection of.
Can you tell me a bit more about the artistic process you follow when creating your artwork?
Everything starts with one bit of something seeming to match well with another bit of something. The keys of a typewriter becoming teeth, the chest of a mannequin turning into the Medicine Chest with some anatomical playing around, springs turning to tendons, and insides becoming outsides. In one piece the scapula of a raccoon become its ears and it is transformed into a mechanical puppy. In another the tentacles of an octopus become tendrils of smoke rising through the skull of a coyote while another piece depends on the smoke of incense to become the mane of a unicorn. It all starts with one bit that looks like it could do some job and then finding the next bit and the next…. The story unfolds as the piece takes shape.
Favourite or most inspirational place where you live?
My favorite places, the places that inspire me most, are abandoned buildings, forests, railroad tracks, forgotten nooks and crannies. I spent time living on the road out of my car and in national forests, walked tracks for a few days taking photos and picking up bits of things. Every place is a wonderland if you walk out of your door and pretend you have never been there before and simply follow whatever interests you for a day.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have been given is to do what inspires me. Don’t do what I think other people want to see. Do what is inside of me without apology.
When you think of the concept of ‘the artist’s ego’, what comes to mind?
From my experience, the artist’s ego forms through the interaction with critics. Every artist, no matter how modest in the beginning, will have to defend their work over and over. Artists are often challenged on what people think of their work and the way work is priced. It comes out to a hardening of the artist or the defeat of the artist. The artist will have to believe in what they are doing and what value they have put on their time, effort, and supplies then stick to it. If they don’t they will give themselves away, over and over, letting each criticism shape them instead of growing. This is my opinion on the artist ego in general. I acknowledge that there are always exceptions and like attracts like. Artists run the spectrum from humble to pretentious and tend to group more around people like themselves.
Most challenging part about being an artist?
The most challenging part of being an artist is getting people to talk to me about why they like my work. I want to connect to people through my art and it’s been difficult to get people to describe what they are connecting to when they like something I have made. I can’t wait to hear from others about what they are connecting with in my work, but it seems like few people want to have the conversation. I’m not afraid to hear that someone doesn’t like my work, but getting the people who do to say what they see is almost impossible.
Why do you think there is a growing interest in macabre art?
I don’t know if there was ever not an interest in macabre art. Taxidermy has been around for years. We walk around in the skins of animals all of the time. Medicine would not have come so far without artists interested in bodies. Artists began autopsies and created the illustrations in textbooks and journals. Plastic surgeons sculpt bodies from living tissue. I think there are more rogue artists out in public now vs. before. I think the lid has just popped on keeping things socially acceptable. I think the macabre has been a part of things all along and people are not ashamed to show it anymore.
Any future plans you intend to pursue with your artwork?
As far as future plans go, I don’t have big dreams. I go where the work takes me but it’s taking me to the places I want to go any way. I am being hosted in Indianapolis at the moment and will be part of an oddities shop soon. I participate in competitions and gallery shows in several states. Ideally I would like to be a full time artist but that is going to take some time.
As an artist, what are your thoughts on scientific studies which purport that there is a fine line between insanity and creativity?
I can happily get on board with the correlation between insanity and creativity. Artists are not like other people. We never fit in and are usually targeted as “different” early in life. That’s automatically going to have some psychological label on it. Art is an outlet for some. It’s not a goal. I use my work to manage my anxiety and explore what things are made of and how they work. I would not survive in the world as it is today if I lived the way I wanted to. I have been in a mental institution 3 times. I don’t fit in the world. My work is an expression of how I am embracing myself not fitting. I just do what I love now with a side of job to pay my bills. I embrace that I am not an everyday girl. I also take my meds like I’m told as long as it doesn’t start to erase me from the inside. I’d rather be nuts and be myself than be a compliant zombie.
What do you know now as an artist you wish you had known 10 years ago?
It’s worth it and I should have started sooner.
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Originally published at https://www.circusliving.com/post/gears-on-acid.