Arts & Culture

Sarah Choo Jing: Intentions are Conveyed Through Suitable Mediums

On being a teaching artist, art appreciation and choice of mediums

Words by
b-side staff

Going beyond borders in more ways than one, Sarah Choo Jing‘s works have been presented internationally, showcasing her interdisciplinary art practice to the fullest in various contexts. Her works embrace all sorts of mediums, spanning traditional forms such as painting to the more technologically advanced.

What exactly drives the conception and presentation of her works?

The Singaporean artist speaks about her own art practice, accompanied by images of her solo exhibition Accelerated Intimacy with Yeo Workshop during Singapore Art Week 2018.

Will you briefly describe your art teaching pedagogy and/or philosophy that you believe in?

On being a teaching artist.

“A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.” – Eric Booth

A teaching artist, by definition, is a two-career professional: a working artist and a working educator. As a working artist, they are involved in an ongoing process of discovery, problem solving, discipline and refinement of skills in their discipline. As a working educator, it is essential that the artist is also developing a knowledge base and skills to be an effective partner in education.

Achieving a meaningful balance between these two professions, whereby one feeds the other, is an ongoing process that requires a deepening awareness for the teaching artist of what their teaching brings to their art and what their art teaches them about learning.

In continual efforts at developing my art practice, I do believe teaching artists are a crucial resource for the future of arts education, the arts in general, and the overall process of learning.

What is art appreciation to you? And how do we appreciate art?

I believe that creativity exists in each and every person. Creativity can be defined as the use of imagination or ideas to invent something; the medium which one expresses this ‘inventiveness’ is infinite. Likewise, the appreciation of art refers to the recognition and enjoyment of art; in this case, art as a visual, performance or even spoken/written words.

Given that the spectrum of art is so broad, I would like to think everyone and anyone can appreciate art.

a light,

a flickering flame,

speaking gently,

sharing raindrops at midnight.

Watching –

people, colours, textures.

the glow from city lights,

stains on walls

a sequence of events

a shout,
a tragical pause,

a gesture of terror,

the complete external unfolding

of an intimate drama.

to stop, slow down and look closely.

How would you describe your art practice? Your artworks include photography, installation and multimedia — how do we collect, in the broadest sense, multimedia artworks?

Art is a language.‍

Just as how people communicate with one another through their speech, I seek to communicate with others through my art practice.

As much as possible, I do my very best to choose the most appropriate medium to convey my intentions; be it through painting, photography, video etc. My background in painting have definitely influenced the way I make art, and I believe this is reflected through my compositions, choice of colour and lighting techniques.

I have always believed in choosing the most appropriate medium or method to best convey the intention(s) behind each work. Taking into consideration the physical resources and context of the work, I make considered choices and decisions along the process of making. Aptly put by Marshall Mcluhan, “the medium is the message” indeed.

I was first trained as a painter before I moved towards exploring photography as a medium. My oil paintings are photo realistic in nature, characterised by dramatic and intentionally heavy-handed lighting. I suppose, I began to see a relationship between photography and painting as I was often painting from photographs themselves. As I began looking at photography and what it could represent, my experience as a painter spilled into the digital images that I began to make. Hence, the painterly aesthetic present in my body of works — including video installations such as nowhere near.

My art practice has always been centred on social alienation and isolation. I have been fascinated with the relationships, or lack thereof, between people; and the potential narratives that occur in The Everyday.

With regard to the subject matter, people and objects are recurrent motifs in my pieces. In my earlier works, I often depict and direct my family members or people with whom I have a personal relationship in my compositions. In my recent works, however, I begin to find relevance in looking at strangers around me, to bring to attention scenes that might commonly be overlooked. I’d like to think of each of my works being likened to coded journal entries. Each piece reflects an experience or a moment in time, focusing on different aspects of isolation in contemporary society.

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