04 . 03

Form vs. Function — Sara's Art Practice

By Sara Berks

In the spirit of sharing more about MINNA - who we are, where we've been, what we're doing, and where we're going - we thought it was time to share about my art practice. Specifically, how my relationship to it has evolved and how it's informed MINNA over the years.
Journal | Studio

Form vs. Function — Sara's Art Practice

To start, let's go back to the beginning: since I was a little kid I have always been painting and making things. My mom says all she had to do to make me happy was put paint or a crayon in my hand.

Me painting in 1990.

Yet I’ve always had this idea that I wasn’t really an artist. That the work I was making didn’t have enough meaning, wasn’t good enough, wasn’t profound enough. So, when I went to college, instead of pursuing art I studied design.

A painting and a drawing from 2010.

I still continued to paint and draw. I have piles of sketchbooks and drawings and paintings in folders that live under my bed and in my closet. At some point seven years ago, I got this idea in my head that I had to learn to weave. I had always been drawn to textiles - collecting fabrics and yarns. So, I taught myself to weave and that became my primary art medium for some time.

Weavings I made in 2013 and 2014.

Next, I decided to design things for other people to weave. To create a separate world that is for my design and is very much not my art. I did this consciously: this is my work, my design, my business vs. this is my art, my weavings, my paintings. I could use my design brain, the brain that wanted to make functional things, to start a business, and hopefully ultimately support myself, and others. The art brain, the part of me that had to make things, not necessarily functional things, could be separate. 

The designing and separating thing worked well until I realized I was hardly making art anymore. The busier the business got, the less capacity I had to make things for myself. But, I still had that need to express creativity in a different way outside of the constant creativity needed to run a business. Instead of weaving, I started painting again. It was a ‘faster’ medium and I could see the ideas in my head come to life more quickly.

I think part of why it's always been so hard for me to claim the identity 'artist' is that what I’m making doesn’t feel necessarily like a statement, but rather a necessity. It’s physically how I decompress, it’s the best thing I do for my mental health. I’ve come to realize that’s okay, even if it is only that. Though if I look deeper, the work I make is deeply personal and perhaps that's why I don't like to talk about it much. It has all always been about patterns, visual ones, and otherwise, as well as communication and the breakdown of said communication. 

Each piece is approached without a plan and I draw with a pen so I can’t erase or begin again. I draw the outer frame or frames first and then draw all the shapes and patterns inside. There is a sense of order being bound within a frame, but internally unpredictable. The work is about communication and pattern - patterns of thought, behavior, life, nature, and otherwise. Each shape is sort of like a thought or a sentence, something said, unsaid or misunderstood. 

While I still want a conscious separation between my art and design, I do want to share it here more openly. It really is the root of MINNA. To my surprise, it has started to feel like a body of work and so clearly ties to the functional pieces we make. I’m not sure how often we’ll be sharing my work or how often it will be available for sale, but here’s a start.

View Sara's Work