April 21, 2011 in Washington Voices

Prior’s art explores how every idea, emotion, person connects

Jennifer Larue
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Sarah Prior is seen last week with many of her pieces, including painted drums, on display at the Avenue West Gallery, 122 S. Monroe St., in downtown Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

Art quote of the week

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French writer


Avenue West Gallery, 122 S. Monroe St., avenuewestgallery.org

Sarah Prior’s artwork encompasses all.

Driven by an aversion to separatism, a thing that some religions embrace, she paints things that illustrate her belief that we are all connected. “What happens to me and you does matter and does affect the whole,” she said, “Through my work, I try to show the beauty and perfection in our simple and magnificent existence.”

Prior, 33, grew up in North Bend, Wash., a place rife with moss, ferns and oak. As a child, nature and art were Prior’s solace. “I started drawing when I was pretty young. It came from a place of innocence, appreciation for life and the beauty I saw around me. I spent as much time as I could outdoors, in the forest, on the mountains, at the lake. I drew from a love inside me that I needed to express,” Prior said. She diligently perfected the art of water paint books and kept her large box of crayons organized by color. At 8 or 9, she gave her younger brother art lessons after mastering steps in “how to draw” books.

In high school, she enrolled in the Running Start program, taking art classes at Spokane Falls Community College. “When I was a young adult, drawing and painting became an outlet for all of my emotions: anger, passion, sadness, joy, depression and curiosity. I learned a lot about art at that time.” She later took classes at Spokane Art School and studied privately.

Her media include watercolor, acrylic and oil paint applied to canvas; and leather (rawhide of goat, deer, elk, horse, and buffalo) stretched to create drums, drumsticks and rattles.

Prior’s style is realistic surrealism and includes colorful images of eagles, butterflies, dragonflies, moons and sky, lotus flowers and towering trees. Inspired by Native American and East Indian design, she incorporates symbols like “Om,” a prayer blessing for all, “Padmasana,” the lotus pose, or a mystical crow cawing at the moon. “I allow an idea to germinate in me. I want to understand it. Why does this speak to me? What am I trying to communicate? I care about what comes through and I want a piece of divinity to shine through,” Prior said. Titles of her work are words like “Source,” “Life,” “Serenity” and “Becoming.”

Prior, a mother of three, practices yoga and helps with her husband’s business, Custom Strings, 3213 N. Argonne Road. She said she is living a life different from what she expected but more full and grounded. “I paint when I can. I take my time with it,” she said.

She has created two large paintings for her daughters, Kerrigan Rose, with an image of a rose, and Ariana Raven, with the image of a raven. She will soon do one for her son Gaelyn Ezra.

She only started showing her art a couple of years ago, beginning with a Raw Space group exhibit and a display as a featured artist at Pottery Place Plus. She then joined Avenue West Gallery, where she currently has her work. Her goal is to show in galleries out of town and do murals and public works. “I don’t know where I am going artistically. I have let art and canvas and rawhide show me what to create so I have to trust that I will see my way.”

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact Jennifer LaRueat jlarue99@hotmail.com.

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