(Kimia) When did you start making art?


(Sabra) I've always made art as long as I can remember. I was a bad student but had a great imagination, creating has always come naturally for me.


(K) Same, there was never a time as a child that I don't remember being creative and making things--it was a constant part of my childhood. My mom was always really creative and would draw with me. We painted eggs, we glued peas onto paper in fun patterns, we painted with puffy paint, she signed me up for pottery classes in the summer, etc. Art was always my favorite activity so she really leaned into that natural inclination of mine and nurtured it.


(K) What called you to the process of creating art, and how has it changed?


(S) It wasn't one thing but many. I’m more visual than anything else so it’s a means of expression. I've always been very curious and being an artist allows me to combine all my interests. I love experimenting, making my own rules and breaking them. The work has evolved, at first the idea was to create the repetition of shapes which was to be seen as a backdrop to the subject of a spontaneous act of paint dripping on the surface. Then I began translating these paintings into clay and that changed how I paint. More loosely and think of them as different characters. Some are slumped over some stand tall.


(K) Are there aspects of serendipity or accident in how the work reveals itself?


(S) Yes, There’s a lot of that in my work. More so with clay than in painting, and I welcome it. I feel that if you stay open and have an awareness, whatever is happening in the world comes through in the work. Then you can reveal some truth without having to be so literal. “Space Face” is a good example of that. I was thinking about how to create a piece where you’re looking through bars. I sculpted the piece loosely and the shape began to look like a face. The negative space creates the face.

Sabra Moon Elliot

Space Face

2019

Glazed ceramic, 13 in x 12 in

(K) I think that's one of my favorite things about your work--the pieces always feel resolved but surprising. And I think striking that balance can only happen when you as an artist are actually engaged in a process of being surprised or open to accident while making. It's one of my favorite qualities in artwork.

(K) What do you wish to communicate through a piece? What would you say the work is about?


(S) I'm inspired by everything and everyone. I'm saying different things through each piece and the same thing at once. All of the work has to do with dichotomy. Sometimes I’m looking for balance and other times dissonance. Then on top of that dichotomy there’s an idea, different stories or emotions like joy, isolation, humor, play, a connectedness to nature.


(K) The idea of dichotomy is something I think about all the time in my work. That there is pain in our lives, but also great hope and beauty. I think I want each piece feels to feel like a longing that is met with answers. For me they are call and responses to our hearts or souls or something in between.


(K) Does the work feel personal to you or autobiographical in any way?


(S) Sometimes it’s just colors, shapes very literal like the piece, “Off The Edge Red." But that being said, my work is personal and autobiographical in the sense that it is a culmination of my experiences. I think it’s personal even when it’s seemingly not. An inspiration for the repetitive shapes in my work was a quilt that was passed down from my great grandmother. This led me on the path to becoming aware of quilters such as Rosie Lee Tompkins and the gifted artists of Gee's Bend, Alabama. I loved seeing how all the pieces fit together, the opposing and contrasting colors.

Sabra Moon Elliot

Off the Edge Red

2018

Glazed ceramic, 9 in x 9 in

(K) That's something I notice in my work too--the images of Persian miniatures and carpets I grew up around have crept into my work in so many accidental and undercover ways. I think my relationship to space is a real mix of East and Western artistic traditions and perspective.


(S) Is your sculpture in conversation with your painting?

(K) Definitely. I think of them as 3-D paintings more than as sculptures. And the two bodies of work are always influencing each other. My 2D imagery has become much more abstract since I started the sculptures.


(S) Can you talk about the importance of the physical relationship between the bodies in your paintings?


(K) The bodies in my work are everything. They're symbols, they're architecture, they're metaphor. The relationship between bodies is often about struggle and intimacy. They sort of walk the line of looking like an embrace or a wrestling match. I often work with two figures, which can represent two separate individuals, or dueling sides of the same person. The human body is universal--it's the one thing we all have in common--so I'm drawn to using it as a way to talk about our shared humanity and experiences. Everyone has a visceral understanding of touch--and I think that shared experience is part of what brings me back to the body over and over.

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline

Toe to Toe

2020

Oil on panel, 13 in. diameter

(S) How do you approach color?


(K) My color choices are always rooted in emotion and intuition--two words I was never allowed to use in school! But that's just the truth. Color evolves organically in my work, and sorts itself out in the process of painting. I never know what something is going to look like before I make it, or what color it will end up being. I know I said the bodies in my work are everything, but maybe actually color is everything. It's always narrative and revelatory for me.

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline

Cradle

2019

Oil on salvaged wood, 12 in x 9 in

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline

Rinse and Repeat

2020

Oil on salvaged wood, 16 in x 3 in x 6 in

Sabra Moon Elliot

Light Star

2020

Glazed ceramic, 10 in x 10 in



Photo of Kimia Ferdowsi Kline © Sera Lindsey

Photo of Sabra Moon Elliot © Philippe Cheng