Chronicles of an Elsewhere Studio Mate: Sarah Jane Lapp
Now that I have a blog, I am very excited to share all of the artists who I have either had the pleasure to call a friend or who have influenced me as an artist. Sarah Jane Lapp has been both friend and inspiration.
I met my friend Marc on a plane from Newark to Seattle about 7 or 8 years ago. We hung out one day, and he said he had a friend who lived just two doors down from me. Enter Sarah Jane, curious and wild-haired. Unlike most keep-to-yourself Seattleites, Sarah Jane immediately invited herself over and asked to see my art, and we have been friends ever since.
We would sit in her kitchen almost daily, and plot out our lives while she would make some tea and vittles from her random cache of twigs, greens, and legumes. We had big plans to have our own art “destination” where we would make things, and somehow sell them to people who would be lured in by the scent of our fresh-baked cookies. Surprisingly, this did not come to pass. However, we did become studio mates and remained so for four wonderful years. We have seen each other through the highs and lows (and very lows) of our personal and artistic careers.
Sarah Jane is a film maker/illustrator, working in ink and gouache. The honesty of her line matches her genuine spirit. Some of her pieces have a minimalist approach that capture such a depth of feeling with just a few strokes. Others marry her line with bursts of colors that I can only describe as alive.
I had the honor of watching her work on and complete an animated film that took her nearly 11 years to create, Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist. When she was done, when all of the frames were stacked in one proud pillar, the film stood more than half her size. It was an entire film handmade with ink and gouache and edited in Final Cut Pro. Eulogist went on to screen at South by Southwest and the Seattle International Film Festival.
Meanwhile, SJ also did op-ed pieces for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (RIP), and sold her art to the masses via a booth at Pike Place Market. This was always funny to me; I wondered if customers understood that the woman in the Russian faux fur hat that they were purchasing handmade greeting cards from was a genius. I am in awe of the various fellowships and residencies Sarah Jane has been accepted to, not to mention teaching at several universities (including a little place called Harvard). I do want to note that I am totally butchering SJ’s resume by leaving out her other lauds, but these are the moments that stick in my mind, the ones that make me proud and give me hope as a creative.
SJ would always say to me “be good to yourself,” and it’s something that I try to impart to others. She is always trying to connect people, always trying to learn and grow and be a good human.
SJ left Seattle over a year ago, and it hasn’t been the same without her. She’s currently living outside of Providence, plotting new adventures.