BETWEEN MYSTICISM AND SCIENCE: INTERVIEW WITH SADIE WEIS

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Sadie Weis is a US artist based in Berlin who explores the Divine and transcendence in the materials. Weis’s practice travels between sculpture, installation and painting in an artistic process to understand form and element. Combining scientific mediums with organic ones, Weis works with, at times, hazardous materials while creating the visual representation of her spiritual odysseys. In this interview we find out more about the spirituality in her work and her life between high-profile art fairs and artist squats in SoHo. Her work is also available for purchase on Sleek Art.

Sadie Weis, Blind Players on the Edge of the Abyss, 2013, photo by Kornelius Glaser Sadie Weis, Blind Players on the Edge of the Abyss, 2013, photo by Kornelius Glaser

Could you tell us more about the sculptures you’re showing in London?

The exhibition in London is entitled “Chemcraft” and it explores aesthetic forms and their opposites, focusing on work which creates a dialogue between chemical and scientific themes and visual art. I work very often with chemistry. I recently created a crystallized garden of plants and flowers for Lacey Contemporary Gallery and was invited to bring my practice to “Chemcraft”. I will be exhibiting a crystallized fluorescent halo entitled “White Sabbath Witch Halo” and a sculpture consisting of a found trophy, which I have crystalized, entitled “Blind Players on the Edge of the Abyss”.

 

Sadie Weis, White Sabbath Witch Halo, 2013 Sadie Weis, White Sabbath Witch Halo, 2013, photo by Kornelius Glaser

How did you get into crystals? And what’s the process of producing them yourself?

It started with an idea that I had to create a crystallized neon ring for an installation. I had a vision, but I didn't know how to create it, so I started doing research and experimenting with different kinds of properties, household products mainly at the beginning before moving on to chemical compounds. It's important to find the perfect balance of measurements of the elements, so a ratio of water and whatever will be used to create the crystals. It can be as simple as sugar and salt or much more complex with elements such as potassium dichromate and calcium aluminum sulphate, etc. Some of the most toxic chemicals create the most beautiful results, actually and unfortunately! Each element crystallizes in its very own distinct pattern, just as all things in the universe consist of patterns, such as every element in nature.

The crystal process requires a stable and uninterrupted environment. Often I must construct my own DIY water-sealed inventions to house the process, depending on the shape of the element I am working with. This I learned the hard way as sometimes no matter how sure I am it is water tight, one little tiny minute spot opens in the silicone seal and the whole thing is ruined and I must rebuild and enforce with more silicon and so on. It's an installation in itself.

I have been experimenting with crystal growth for a bit now - learning the properties of each chemical element that I use and how they engage themselves with other elements. I quite like the concept of combining scientific mediums with organic ones, and eventually I moved on to crystallizing plants and flowers as a marriage of both. The crystallization process requires porous elements to cling into, per se, which is found of course in the structure of flora. At first I experimented to see if it was possible - crystallizing live plants and flowers, and when I discovered the rich and beautiful results, I turned into a mad scientist.

What’s your take on spirituality?

I would consider myself a very “spiritual” person, however in a more mystical sense I believe in the strength of one’s inner spirit to overcome obstacles and evolve as a person. I can't deny the presence of science in nature but also the sparkle in life and the power of astronomy and the stars...so many abstract constructs, but I appreciate how that leaves no one specific aphorism but for each to interpret for themselves. I don't know quite yet. I am still figuring it out.

I always find my interpretation of the universe to be a magical and enchanting one but paradoxically dystopian and futuristic. My philosophy and inspiration in creating comes from the spiritual restoration of the journeys of the mind in relation to the life surrounding you - a mental odyssey.

How do you move from painting to sculpture? And how does one influence the other?

For me, creating is about fulfilling a vision and following an epiphany - regardless of what medium it takes to express this and I seek each medium specifically suitable for what I need to convey. My sculptural work has many facets, but it also acts for me like a research project to understand form and elements. Each genre of work that I do in turn influences the other and they all grow together. It is always refreshing for me to return to the canvas, as it is my first love.

Sadie Weis, White Sabbath Witch Halo, 2013 Sadie Weis, White Sabbath Witch Halo, 2013, photo by Kornelius Glaser

You move often between New York and Berlin - what can you tell us about your life in NYC? And how important is location to you as an artist?

In the past I was doing a lot more of back and forth between Berlin and New York. Each city brought me different things and a fresh outlook, plus I loved the feeling of never being tied to one place. New York, of course brought so much energy and thrill into my life and work, which I miss very much. New York brings all of the chaos out in me. I found myself always moving around getting lost in myself, I lived in abandoned buildings with other artists (in SoHo, believe it or not) and on couches of friends at times, but not always, while simultaneously having a high-profile job in an art fair. It was some sort of dream world.

Berlin in turn is more relaxed and has allowed me to flourish and evolve much more fluently, however, only with the possibility of the influences from my experiences living in New York. As you know, many artists have exported themselves to Berlin, due in part to the mythical values of a magical easier life. I guess you can find it wherever you go somehow if you know what you are looking for. I feel more stability in Berlin, but also my wanderlust is kicking in and I dream of experiencing a new city, or buying a VW van and traveling the world.

 Interview by Will Furtado

Photography by Stefanie Walk

'Chemcraft' curated by CM Projects

See more works by Sadie Weis available for purchase via Sleek Art.