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friend of arq feature : sarah nsikak

Sarah’s depth of connection to her work is enviable— a true, organic expression of self is something we all strive for yet few of us achieve. A resourceful artist shaped by her Nigerian seamstress grandmother, her art therapy background, and fueled by the healing power of art, Sarah creates beautiful and innovative projects out of scraps from NYC’s fashion industry. Read slowly to let the power of her words saturate, and extra slowly around the snippets of advice she bestows. 

First and foremost, we’re astounded by your deeply meaningful textile artistry. Patchwork and quilting as a medium can hold such symbolism, and it seems as if every stitch of yours is imbued with thought and intention. Can you tell us about what inspires you to create in this way?

There are so many influences for my work and also many healing emotions that manifest through patchworking. When I was studying art therapy, one of my favorite theorists was Viktor Frankl. Out of his suffering in nazi concentration camps, he developed a school of thought called logotherapy - the search for meaning in life. My work has brought me a lot of healing as it has connected me back to my heritage and helped me to reconcile an upbringing in Oklahoma, where I was constantly trying to figure out who I am while moving through predominately white spaces.

Patchworking to create art in a sustainable way feels like so many works colliding for me. My many muses, from my Nigerian seamstress grandmother to the artists of Gee's Bend, have made so much beauty out of waste. Honoring the planet, while preserving traditional ways of doing and making, are the axes of purpose and meaning for me.

We all know the highs and lows brought on by the roller coaster of 2020. How has the meaning of home shifted for you over the past few months? How are you finding solace and comfort at home while maintaining a “balance” with work, family, and desire for community?

I feel like my home became so multifaceted for me, and I made great strides to make it a place that I'm happy to be in. Before, I was always gone and didn't really put much into nesting. My partner and I sort of jumped on the opportunity to live where we do out of convenience and timing. When the lockdown was implemented, I started moving things around and made more effort to create a work space, stay somewhat organized, and declutter. I sold a lot of things on depop! These days, I have a studio that forces me to get out of the house, but it's still very important to me that I enjoy my time at home. I've been carving out time in the mornings for reading, and at night my partner and I make dinner and often watch something mindless together. It's really simple, but it keeps us in a ritual of slowing down morning and night. As strange has it may sound, the internet has been a larger source of community than ever before. It's been harder to physically see friends these days, so I'm grateful for the facetimes, IG messages shared playlists, etc from both old and new friends.

What has your journey through your professional and work-life looked like as you’ve carved your path toward working and thriving in the creative world?  Any words of wisdom for those of us out there who are striving to lead artful lives and build something beautiful?

Organic is the quickest way I can describe it. I'm passionate about art and sustainability, and it didn't feel like an option for me to withhold those passions. When you have a vision and something you're passionate about, there's a reason. Why not share it even if only for yourself? I think the biggest trap is feeling like you're not ready or like you have to have a certain amount of work to be a legitimate artist. That's not true at all - I'm way more interested in artists that are putting themselves out there in a real way than those with MFAs and gallery representation. To anyone who needs to hear this: the world wants to know your story now more than ever - we aren't interested in being fed algorithmic and contrived work. If you're sharing who you are and making work that is true to that, at the very least it will be a cathartic and rewarding experience for you. You will grow, and that's really the goal. The other parts of "success", however you define it, will follow! 

Tell us about how you take care of yourself. What are your favorite rituals for balance, grounding, and self-care?

Lately, in all the busyness of this time of year, I've been neglectful, but I have been trying to make time for myself. It's like a secret weapon - when I feel well moisturized I can do anything! Lately, I've been ending my days with Vintner's Daughter - they only have two products that are extremely well done and completely plant-based. My skin feels smooth and soft after using them. Occasionally I use the True Botanicals moisture mask, which makes my face look vibrant! I don't wear makeup outside of multi-sticks these days, and I love the one by NOTO in the color Ono for a little confidence boost. It's like a peachy pink on me. I love it so much that I gifted it to a friend recently. It makes my lips tingly and gives a pretty and subtle tint. As far as exercise goes, I bike literally everywhere, every day. It's a great way for me to feel grounded, alert, and (somewhat) in shape. I've learned so much about my neighborhood through biking as well, which makes me feel more connected to the world around me.


Follow Sarah on Instagram : a.la.reunion

Visit Sarah's website : La Réunion Studio