In Seattle, one is never far from art. In this instance, though, art was literally in my house and I didn’t know! Turns out my awesome roommates’ cool brother’s ladyfriend is also an alum of UW Art, but that’s not how we met. It just so happens that we’re both participating in the BUY ART sales event. You might’ve seen E. R. Saba’s work in that post and wondered who that talented artist was and how exactly you could get your hands on a Saba original. Well, my friends, you don’t have to wonder. You do have to scroll, though.
Ladies, gentlemen and every beautiful being in between, Meet: E. R. Saba.
State your name for the record, please. (Not really a question, but my favorite way to begin.)
Is there a particular reason you prefer not to reveal your full first name?
I like a bit of separation from my artwork. It is not important what my name is, what my gender is, or what presets you link with my name. It’s the artwork that is important and I want as little emphasis on me as possible.
What are your primary modes of artistic expression?
Oil paint, watercolor, ink. Things with brushes! It’s the movement and gestural language that I enjoy.
Where does it come from? Or, to what do you attribute your artistic abilities?
It comes from my need to understand life. Art is an answer for me. It is where I ask my questions and get responses. I have used it to survive and to understand things.
Why UW Art?
When I applied, it was out of spite and a need to show my family that I could be just as good as my older siblings (both UW alumni). Originally I was going to be a dance major! Hahah my god am I glad I found my way quickly. The UW art cultivated my creativity; it hollowed out a perfect nook for me to find my place. I am glad I continued through the program completely.
Can you break down your process for a particular piece (such as Fall) from the incident or item of inspiration, through the evolution the idea might’ve endured, to a finished product?
“Fall” is a snap moment in time, a glimpse of a second of emotion, of a fall, of a feeling. I was working on a series of self-portraits. My own form of self-exploration. This was the 1st of a set of 3 (Fall, Lay, and Whirl). I was driven by the idea of the moment of breathing in. It was seductive, but innocent. I decided to restrict all emotion to the mouth. I find lips to be very expressive, but a challenge to capture. As the painting evolved it took on a life of the figure falling down the canvas. The breath in was no longer still but the sharp inhale of a fall. A sudden dropping of the stomach as the figure is caught unaware.
The floating necklace was the perfect message for gravity in the painting. I sketched the necklace out multiple ways for it to be floating in midair in the right way. I settled on the figure eight, which was a beautiful symbolism for me in the end, an eternal feeling of falling through life.
What are the most memorable responses you’ve gotten from your work?
“Your work kicks my ass.” When my art evokes poignant responses I feel a connection to the viewer. That is always memorable for me.
How do you define your target audience?
My target audience is 20-35 year olds, working to understand the modern world in art.
I’m over the moon for Daniel Smith’s house made water-soluble oil paints, they’re buttery and rich like oil, but clean up with soap and water. On the flip side Winsor Newton paints don’t make their way into my cart. Are there any paint brands / types that you LOVE or HATE?
I find Williamsburg simply delectable. Pigment, quality, texture. I don’t know what possessed me to buy Rowney Georgian Oil Colors. HORRIBLE choice. The price was low but not nearly as low as the quality of that paint. Price almost always tells you what you’re getting with oils.
Where does your art fit within the realm of Seattle arts and the larger art community as a whole?
My artwork is about identity and self-exploration. In a city full of transplants and bloodlines from around the world, culture and identity become a question. My work is a voice for the lost in Seattle. Which to me is everyone within Seattle.
Do you have a website where we can ogle your works? Any social media links?
Are you represented by a gallery?
Yes, I currently have a show going from March 3rd – April 28th at the A Gallery in Pioneer Square.
Do you have upcoming shows we should attend?
YES! Art Opening & Reception
Thursday, March 3
6 PM – 9 PM
117 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104
How will you know you’re a successful artist?
Success for me is to show internationally. In London specifically.
What’s the #1 thing you’d like people to know about your work?
My work will not always be beautiful.
Saba takes the passionate, do-it-yourself route when it comes to making every aspect of her work down to the canvases themselves. She talks with her hands and paints with her heart. How can you NOT love this artist?! Exactly.
E. R. I thank you for taking the time to let me wander into your studio. The pleasure was all mine!