3 Questions

3 Questions with Sa Schloff


Artist Sa Schloff on trusting your intuition, reading broadly, and looking for inspiration outside of the museum or gallery.

3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.

The Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies welcomes Sa Schloff as part of the 2012-2013 Graduate Visiting Artist Lecture Series. You can listen to a podcast of her lecture here.

“Think of school as a jumping off point.”


Photo courtesy of the artist.

What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?

Your time in school may be very intense, but in the scheme of things, you can only learn so much in two years. Think of school as a jumping off point and try to be open to both your creative practice and career moving in unexpected directions.

How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?

Seeking out intellectual and visual nourishment:

I find that I go in spates of reading about subject matter that intersects with my work. For a few years I did a lot of reading about architecture and city planning. Steen Eiler Rasmussen’s Experiencing Architecture and Witold Rybczynski’s Home, and How Buildings Learn by Stuart Brand are favorites.

For the last few years I have found myself drawn to reading about neural plasticity, and the brain hardware and software of attention, learning and perception. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Diodge, Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks, and Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing by Margaret Livingstone are all excellent and fairly accessible. I also love the recent Radiolab episode called ‘Colors,’ available on podcast.

Visually, I love watching a really well made movie or visiting an antique store as much as going to a museum or gallery.

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?

I cannot. Over the years I have found that the seeds of a new project, which may feel so different from previous work, were actually planted long ago.

I feel that it is vitally important to trust one’s intuition when making new work. If it feels good, and you are excited to see what happens next, you are in a good place. If you are feeling somewhat bored and dissatisfied, you need to work even harder to exit the plateau and start climbing again.

SA SCHLOFF’S photographic work explores how we live in the present and past simultaneously. Her work has exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Photography; Houston Center for Photography; Smith College Art Museum and published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Bomb Magazine and awarded a Chicago Arts Assistance Grant; LEF Artist’s Grant; St. Botolph Foundation Grant. She received her MFA in photography from the School of the Art Institute and teaches at Columbia College, Chicago.

— Posted on 07/09 at 02:00 AM

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