february 24, 2017
los angeles, california
Adele: Are you a cat or a dog?
Sarah: I’m a cat.
Adele: Ok, yeah, that’s a great answer.
Sarah: I mean that’s all I’ve got. I’m a cat, hands down.
Adele: What have you been listening to recently in your studio?
Sarah: I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks in my car—right now I’m listening to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I also like a lot of embarrassing, pop-y music. I’ve been listening to Miranda Lambert’s new album, Rihanna, and MEGA 96.3.... And alway a lot of NPR.
Adele: I listen to embarrassing music as well. Like Taylor Swift… although not so much lately. Sometimes you just have to listen to the most vapid pop music when all other—like jazz or classical music fails you. Or you’re just not in the mood. You need something sugary to consume.
Sarah: And I feel like for me, I go through phases. Right now it’s a lot of pop, but when I first moved here, it was all classical. I feel like my music is always rotating based on where I am geographically and emotionally.
Adele: What’s your studio beverage of choice?
Sarah: Mostly water. And herbal tea. And I’ve been trying not to drink coffee, but we’ll see how that goes...
Adele: Would you describe, for us, your studio practice as a party?
Sarah: Mine would be a camping party in the woods, like where you’re all in tents around the campfire, drinking some drinks and telling stories and—
Adele: Marshmallows or no?
Sarah: No marshmallows, only because I don’t like them. But other people can have marshmallows. But there’ll be some whiskey, and a sky full of stars, bear stories, and—
Adele: Hot tea in the morning? I always drink hot tea camping, but maybe you don’t. I love this!
Adele: What is your idea of home?
Sarah: I feel like that has shifted a lot in the past six months, because I feel like I am home now. My idea of home before was very, very fluid and I wasn’t really interested in having a singular home, but now I feel like I want to be here and I’m ready to live in a place and devote myself to it for the first time in… almost forever. I mean, Idaho will always be my home—it’s my spiritual home, but LA is where I ended up. I’ve been in a transitory mode for so long and I’m finally ready to settle here. I’ll continue to go on adventures, but I’m so happy to have a permanent home base.
Adele: How do you define intimacy or does intimacy play into your vision of romance? Maybe you could talk about the importance of land to you, unless you want to talk about intimacy in relationships, but—
Sarah: No, romance and intimacy, to me, are all land-based. When we’re hiking I’m always like, “when I’m an old woman, I’m going to find a rock in a slot canyon somewhere, like some sandstone, and just curl up and die.” To me that’s the kind of intimacy I feel with the land, I want to eventually just become part of it. Or, I feel like it’s not separate from me in that way. I don’t think that’s a depressing thing to say. I want to add my body to the land at some point.
In terms of being alive, and interacting with the land in an intimate way—I don’t know, I think it’s just about knowing what you need emotionally. I know I don’t need the ocean and the water. I like it, but it’s a different relationship. The relationship I have to the desert is much more intimate, and I feel connected to it in a way that sometimes I can’t really explain. I read an article about Ursula Le Guin recently, and she was talking about the desert, and about how when you see the desert, you just see history unfolded. There’s no filter, you just see everything for what it is. That’s what I feel about the desert. There’s no cover, it’s just thousands, millions of years of history open for you to see and be a part of. So it makes me feel like I’m part of something larger, part of a continuum of time.
Adele: Do you have a favorite rock, and could you tell me a little bit about it?
Sarah: Right before I moved to Virginia, I went to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and found all of these geodes and I was obsessed with them--they are little rocks that look like pieces of ginger and then you crack them open and there is a geode in it, and that’s amazing to me. I would spend hours collecting these geodes and for many years, that was my favorite kind of rock. After I left Virginia, my interests turned to meteorites. In the Grand Canyon, it was, again, that immediate relationship to place, and that rock was the physical manifestation of that immediacy in location and place, and then thinking about Oasis Linkand my relationship to place became much more intangible during that point in time but still rooted in reality. And to me, meteorites represent that kind of ethereal manifestation of place, in that they’re real and they’re made up of matter, and they’re rock-like, but there’s this disconnect between the physicality of it and I became really interested in that. I still collect rocks wherever I go, but meteorites are magical to me. Whatever started the universe, there’s a little bit of that in a meteorite, and it’s shot back at us. It’s reunited with us. It feels really exciting to me.
Adele: Would you consider yourself an archeologist or an archivist?
Sarah: That’s a hard question. I want to be both. Maybe I am both. I feel like I go through phases where on the one hand, the archiving of information is really important, and then I’ll go through a phase where it’s the gathering, the fieldwork, that’s really important. So I think they go hand in hand, and they inform each other. So, fieldwork, and then bring it back to my office, and disseminate, and then go back into the field. I remember wanting to be anthropologist when I was a kid. I’m still interested in the same things I was interested in when I was eight, which I used to think was weird. Now I really embrace it, because I feel like, it’s just me.
Adele: When was the last time you screamed?
Sarah: Oh, I hate screaming. I have this horrible memory of being in volleyball practice and I was very not vocal and my coach made me scream as loud as I could in front of everyone, and I didn’t want to. It was horrible.