Some thoughts - a kind of summary
One theme that runs through my five decades of art making, is my interest in the world and finding my place in it. I have used my art as a vehicle for communication and connection. I wanted my LIFE TO BE ART. I travelled to Europe in the early 80s, documenting the trip in sketchbooks, shooting with a 1939 Brownie camera, making appointments with curators and museum people, seeing Documenta and getting a feel for the broader world. My network was largely the alternative art world, the mail artists, book artists, Dada and Fluxus people I felt kinship with.
I met Sas Colby in 1992 at the Ucross Foundation, an artist colony in Clearmont, Wyoming. I was a much younger woman and an emerging artist. I remember being impressed by her books--beautifully crafted canvas paintings uniformly held together in packages like bundled scrolls presented as "artist books." Each page was a beautiful decorative painting in its own right. Perhaps, I was too young to see further than the obvious. I did not then see the quest as I do now.
For as I am telling this, some 20 years later, I contact Sas Colby about a GAGANation, remembering only her beautifully crafted work. I was stunned when I saw the growth in her work. Here, pain, soul, life purpose, and the hungry quest for solutions to daunting global issues co-exist. These are strange bedfellows; compassion and angst over warfare, a yearning for spiritual enlightenment, a reaching back to early man's ancient mythologies, and a visual interpretation of the glossy saturation we experience from Madison Avenue marketing. These are undoubtedly examples of a mind that is wading through contemporary images, hunting for answers to our very human experience.
Strangely, Colby is able to push through this, her work rings true. One sees her inspiration and motivation. In her willingness to share her journey she brings together her creative mind's nonverbal reflections of life into the fullness of an ambiguous cohesiveness. For, truly, what else could it be? She does not answer questions, her work only suggests the ones we perhaps have not even considered asking ourselves.
Presented here for this expose' are works that span 20 years. Cobbled together, this mature work offers us silent icons that act holistically; like a compass pointing us into the direction of a personal truth.
Kudos, Ms. Colby.
Sylvia Benitez,President and Founder/GAGA
Living in Berkeley, CA also connected me with a kind of renegade art world
of performance, Xerox art, and non-profit community spaces.
Back then it was easier to live on very little money and still have an active life in art. I collaborated in a nude re-creation of Manet's "Dejeuner sur L'herbe," with performance artist Paul Cotton at the Berkeley Art Museum. (1981) The AART store was another public collaborative venture with a group of artists.
For three years I directed the art programs for Festival at the Lake, a large annual event in Oakland, CA, where I gathered artists of all ethnicities to create masks of the local populace ("1,000 Faces").
Although I'd been teaching since the early 1970's, in New Mexico, I began leading annual week long art retreats at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House (now in its 19th year), and Ghost Ranch, experiences that gave me the confidence to organize workshops in France and Spain.
Being accepted for residencies at the Ucross Foundation, Villa Montalvo, and the Djerassi Foundation were important experiences bringing me into broader art communities.
I returned to living in the California Bay Area in 1998 and began a time of intense travel to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, which has influenced my work.
After travels in Asia I began to work with the timeless image of the Buddha.
In an effort to combine East & West, I added the image of the Madonna to the Buddha, in drawings and paintings. I also found a subject in a small bunny/rabbit figure I began drawing when my husband was dying. This became a touchstone and a symbol for me and has continued in my work for more than ten years.