Studio Visit with Sadie Weis

“We’re going on an adventure!” mixed-media artist Sadie Weis explains as she leads me through the winding corridors leading to her studio in Berlin-Schoneweide. As we weave through the former offices still marked with decade-old Deutsche Telekom labels, she tells me the history of Kunstkaserne Berlin: built alongside Johannisthal Air Field around 1909, the building in which Weis works was built as a barrack to accompany Germany’s first airport, and later used by Ministerium für Staatssicherheit after World War II. Decades later, artist and Kunstakserne-initiator Juliana da Costa José rented out the expansive top floor, turning the former soldiers’ quarters into individual artist studios. Sadie was the first to sign-up.

Light filters through emergency-blankets-turned-party-streamers hanging off a wall and reflects off the thin dusting of glitter on nearly every inch of Weis’ studio. Stalagmites of styrofoam circle the relatively small room and errant lines of spray paint cover what little wall space is left. In the corner, a black tarp lines the underside of a styrofoam tub filled with a still, cerulean blue liquid and crystals cling to the walls of the tub. Sadie unwraps a package swathed in tulle and hands me a dried casing of a chestnut with clear gems threaded onto each of the spindles radiating from the core.

“Last fall, I found out my partner and my family are both from the Black Forest,” she tells me. “We drove down to the south to see it. The beautiful moss and trees–it’s no wonder so many fairy tales were written down there.”

“I wanted to be an astronaut or a field journalist in the Middle East,” Sadie chuckles. Originally from the United States, Weis studied journalism and art before moving to New York City to work in the PR department of an art fair while continuing to make work on the side. Her boss, however, realised Sadie was slipping out of her practice. “He was an artist, too, who had decided to go the money route and he told me that he didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps. He said to come to Switzerland with him for the fair and then to be free.”

Since then, Sadie has been in constant motion between New York and Berlin as her life has dictated. On the day of our visit, she is finishing up preparations for a show curated by Charlotte Meddings at the Lacey Contemporary Gallery in London.

"'Wanderlust' charts the physical and spiritual travels of four very different artists each responding to the brief in their own artistic way, Meddings said of the fifth exhibit she has curated as the curator of Lacey Contemporary Gallery. "Sadie was inspired to use her visits to the Black Forest and the search for her ancestral line to create an installation that covers the basement of the gallery using grown crystals, found objects, neon lights and polymono-prints."

Her homegrown crystals aren’t growing fast enough, though, and she has only three days before she needs to pack her styrofoam logs and large-scaled paintings into a truck and drive across Europe to install her show, only to drive home to Berlin two days after the opening.

“I go mad for my work,” she says as she hands me a particularly toxic orange crystal cluster sprouting off of a dried pineapple. “But they never taught me health and safety in art school.”

See Sadie Weis’ work in “Wanderlust” at the Lacey Contemporary Gallery in London from 28 January until 14 February 2015, or browse a selection of her pieces available for immediate purchase through Sleek-Art.