If we have senses, we perceive space.
Sculpture and drawing are the methods I have used to explore the commonality of sharing sensorial and emotional space with the human experience. We are sensitive to how the human form is portrayed through art, every nuance is a decision waiting to be perceived. We feel.
I think of my sculpture as choreographed objects, opening up possibilities of implied movement with the static object and a relationship of objects to time, space, and gravity. It is my intention that viewers will encounter my work as though they are witnessing a three dimensional still of a performance, igniting the imagination for movement and narrative, not without an undercurrent of humour.
I would like to express how fortunate I am to look back on my life’s experiences and remember many people who have treated me, my voice, opinions, and work with utmost respect. The support that I have had is a real treasure. I have had a rigorous, intellectually challenging and engaging education with incredible mentors and colleagues, both men and women with various backgrounds. I have enjoyed spending time with and learning from them immeasurably.
Cara Sawka is a sculptor living in Summerville, Nova Scotia, where she works at Ditch Flower Gallery. As a child in Regina, Saskatchewan, she was surrounded by a family of artists and artisans, encouraged to draw the human figure. Sawka’s interest in representing the human form in sculpture began early in her undergraduate program at the University of Regina leading her to a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. While attending Concordia University in Montreal for her Master of Sculpture degree artist Rober Racine described her work as a “choreography of sculpture” (2006) leading her to identify herself as such. Sawka has received assistance from the Saskatchewan Arts Board for several past projects, attended international and Canadian artist residencies including the Banff Centre and continues to work independently. In autumn of 2017 she completed a sculpture project funded by Arts Nova Scotia. Most recently the studio she shares with her family in Summerville was opened to the public in summer of 2019.
Write-up from 2018:
“I will spin off and away from my bio on my website. I don’t mention music there at all. So that’s where I will start. Although my grandfather played the fiddle, I don’t remember it much and I came to it “late” at the age of 14. I heard a folk duo in an intimate setting, one fellow playing the fiddle so nicely and they both sang. That did it. I hopped on my grandpa’s exercise bike with his fiddle for 3 hours and hammered out “Twinkle, twinkle” and signed up for lessons. I first attended and volunteered at the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp (Canada’s first fiddle camp started by the late Sandy Cameron) and worked with Gord Fisch (who worked on getting this website up and running) from 1996 until he moved to Montréal in 2001, then I organized and ran the camp from 2001 – 2005. During this time I also played professionally with the Celtic band Squeeze of Scotch with whom I did two recordings. I experienced some of the most beautiful musical moments of my life at Emma Lake and then I moved to Montréal myself to pursue Graduate studies in Sculpture at Concordia. I loved it and used some of my organizational skills to organize some talks and do some teaching. I continued to play music. Coming from the prairies I loved the twisty lovely Métis tunes that I mostly knew of from the fiddler John Arcand. Naturally I gravitated to traditional Québecois music that has a similar drive and vibe. I immediately settled in at a high energy weekly Québecois jam session where I learned more fiddle tunes than French but had a great time. Since moving to Nova Scotia in 2009 I have had the good fortune of obtaining a couple of arts grants for creating work, the most recent being from Arts Nova Scotia towards the creation of my sculpture project ‘Circus of Life’ completed in October, 2017.”
While living in Nova Scotia Cara Sawka has also played music with a small session of Irish players in Wolfville, NS, and occasionally with a few Acadian musicians.
2008 MFA Studio Arts, Sculpture; Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
2003 BFA Sculpture; University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan
2001 Arte Sotto un Tetto, Florence, Italy; semester abroad
Residencies / Grants
2015-17 Arts Nova Scotia Grants to Individuals, Circus of Life project, Creation Grant
2015 SOFA Chicago Educational Mission, Craft Alliance/ Métiers d’arts, Chicago, IL
2010 Self-directed Residency, Visual Arts, Winter, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta
2010 Independent Arts Grant, Visual Arts, funding for program at the Banff Centre, Saskatchewan Arts Board
2009 Sculpture Department, Artist Residency, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan
2008 Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Visual Arts Residency, Johnson, Vermont, USA
2008 Can Serrat International Art Center Artist Residency, El Bruc, Spain
2006-7 MFA Graduate Fellowship, Concordia University, Montréal
2005 Visual Arts Individual Assistance Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board
2004 Global Stone Workshop, Marina di Carrara, Italy
2003 Visual Arts Individual Assistance Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board; Individuals sculpture series
2017 Circus of Life; solo sculpture exhibition, 2nd story, Cedar Centre, Windsor, Nova Scotia
2013 Love Me; image of sculpture printed on flag, DMZ International Installation Art Exhibition,
seokjangri Art Sculpture Park, South/North Korean Border
2011 it’s (not) all about you; solo sculpture exhibition, Chase Exhibition Room, Halifax, Nova Scotia
2010 Thread-Bound; group exhibition with theme based on ‘the stitch’, Art Gallery of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan
2008 Collision 4; MFA group thesis exhibition, Parisian Laundry, Montréal, Québec
2007-8 Ignition 4; MFA group exhibition, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montréal
2006-7 ‘SCAM’ Small City Art Museums tour; selected works from the Individuals series included in group touring exhibition visiting the Art Gallery of Swift Current, Estevan Museum & Art Gallery, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Prince Albert, Esplanade Art Gallery, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, and the Kelowna Art Gallery
Method and Working Statements
Upholstery techniques are used to stitch textiles by hand directly onto plaster sculptures.
I first approached this idea with the desire to cover up all of my previous work. Over time, I have come to terms with how much this work asks questions.
These questions hope that whoever views the Individuals identify and internalize their own personal interpretation and meaning; that no matter how light reflects off of the surface of our skin to meet our eyes we may enjoy beauty in life; that we may acknowledge the constraints of history to break free of them and move forward together with dignity in our present.
There is an impenetrable world contained within the nuance between two people.
The term “Ghost Artist” refers to textiles, when designers go unknown or unacknowledged for their work.
La Femme Qui Marche
Taken from the form of a small maquette I had been working on, the title was also inspired by Michael Snow’s “Walking Woman” that I had seen in the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. I had a sense all those years ago that I would create my own version based on the subject.
Countin’ Flowers on the Wall
Created while at the Vermont Studio Centre in Johnson, Vermont. The choice of textiles for the surface of the work came from looking at similar wallpaper in my room during my stay. This benign domestic observation was juxtaposed with the idea of the wall-trophy given the autumnal time of year.
Form and Decoration
This work was inspired by Spain, where I was, and Rory MacDonald’s work from several years before, black wood cut wall hangings. For each grouping I drew the form of a cartouche and modified it several times to create layers.
The former title for this work came from a correspondence with a Nashville fiddle player, Buddy Spicher. His teaching philosophy was essentially “It’s not all about you.” We each play an important role in making experiences happen. Let us look at the structure of a musical performance through Buddy’s eyes. To Buddy, the attentive audience, lending their time, money, appreciation, and the other musicians on stage lending their efforts, time, talent, etc. plus all the people behind the scenes putting it all together, are equally important and appreciated as much as the main performer. Through sculptural form I reimagine this idea as it applies to other aspects of life, projects, challenges, successes, and the commonality of being human.
The Continuous Rise and Fall of the Individual
As the title suggests…
Inspired by the graffiti behind my building near the crumbling overpasses in Montreal where I frequently walked my dog.
Personalizing an imagined series of internal organs emerging from sketches.
I thought these forms were humorous, farfetched, and absurd, and only ironic to call them “designer infants.”