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Photo: Matt Villanueva
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Artist of the Week: Sarah Ward

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at hello@seattlerefined.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Sarah Ward:I grew up in an artistic family, so creativity has been a constant. My mom is an art teacher so we were always exploring different mediums and hosting the neighborhood kids for home-grown musical theater productions. Being the oldest child, I got to dabble in a lot of different mediums including ballet, figure skating, piano, choir and calligraphy.

Flamenco dance has been on the forefront for me since I was 18 and has taken center stage in so many ways. Professionally, I am a Stylist at zulily, a local photo studio / retailer, and I teach calligraphy classes so it’s a treat to have art embedded so deeply into my career. Right now I’m trading in calligraphy for choreography and focusing heavily on dance.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
The imagery of my art as a garden has been really vivid for me lately. I recently traveled to Spain to study dance right in the birthplace of flamenco, and this was like planting seeds in fertile soil. I had enlivening conversations with people there and this fertilized the soil. Since being home I’ve been consistent at dancing each day which is my daily watering. The collaboration process of getting in the studio with other artists and co-choreographing has felt like grafting in different plants to create a hybrid. Receiving feedback from my audiences and critiques from my mentors becomes a pruning process so I can customize the ultimate finished product.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from?
Several times a year I travel to take workshops with visiting artists, and it’s invigorating to be present in my body and discover new ways to move and express myself. When I’m on the dance floor, I feel at home. When I catch myself in the mirror dancing, it gives me a greater appreciation for my body, the way it moves, and what I can do.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Music and dance are my jam. When I was walking the streets of Andalusia this year, you could hear music and dance wafting out of the windows, people would sing as they walked, it was everywhere. Music was such an integral part of their life, no one waited to arrive at the studio to start their art, they just folded their life around it. Life is art.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
For an upcoming show I’m working on, Caras de Flamenco, there are five professional flamenco dancers that are coming together to collaborate. Instead of having a set choreography for everyone to learn, we have approached it in a really organic way with each of the dancers contributing to the choreography, weaving our individual threads into the tapestry. Each of us have been knitted into in the dance and we’re richer for it.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I love sitting in the audience and being enthralled by what is transpiring on stage. On my 18th birthday, a friend took me to see a flamenco show for the first time and I sat in the audience, riveted by the passion, power and precision that was unfolding on stage. I walked out of that theater and stood taller, feeling emboldened by these powerful women. The art took a hold of me in such a visceral way that I immediately called to sign up for classes. When I make art I want it to cause a chain reaction in someone. I want people to walk away with the urge to do something that lights them up.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
You can see more of my dance at www.carasdeflamenco.com, including video and photos. I’m a Lettering Artist as well (I designed the logo for Caras de Flamenco!) and you can see more of my art at http://www.larklettering.com. You’ll find me on Instagram as well at @saraheward and @larklettering.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
If you couldn’t tell, I’m super excited about a dance show I’m producing this summer called Caras de Flamenco on Saturday, August 25 in Wallingford! In Spanish “caras” means faces, so we’re profiling different faces of artists within the flamenco community, both on stage and in the gallery show. We’re also showing the philosophical faces of the dance: each dance under the umbrella of flamenco showcases a different personality: one dance might be joyous and jubilant, where another is introspective and sad, and another is sensual and earthy — the whole of the human experience can be contained within it. It’s the vastness of the expression that is so compelling to me.

With technology taking over our lives these days, attending a live performance seems extra relevant. We’re constantly watching life unfold on a screen, whereas the energy in the room at a live show is electric, and our individual energy feeds into the shared experience. I’m really looking forward to bringing people together for an evening of art, collaboration and connection.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I don’t drink coffee, but I love a good London Fog with almond milk and extra foam!

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