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EXPOUND

In the summer of 2023 my home in Nashville, Tennessee burned down. A tree fell during a storm, crushing my and my roommate’s cars, and pulling down the one power line that led into the building. That night the breaker box ignited in the vacated house, and I was told that it took a dozen fire trucks three hours to completely put out the blaze. I woke up to the news in my parent’s bedroom while visiting my tiny, rural Idaho hometown.

 

I spent most of my childhood on that Idaho property, and not just in the way that it’s where I ate breakfast and dinner and slept each night. It’s where I was homeschooled with my seven younger siblings. It’s where I was set loose to follow my every curiosity, and where learning was never a chore. It’s where I spent my days discovering and creating.

I laid in the middle of mazes I created in our alfalfa field, reading stacks of books from our 2000-volume garage library. I assembled mixed media reports on any subject that sparked my interest—from King Tut to hummingbirds to the science of prisms. I built forts in abandoned cars or defunct livestock pens, watched tadpoles I’d collected from the canal grow in a bucket on the porch, and took apart broken typewriters and sewing machines until I could get them working again. I found ways to bind my own sketchbooks out of wallpaper samples, and built a duct tape mannequin copy of myself to help me alter clothes from thrift stores. I organized my younger siblings into a “Codefinders Club” where I gave them each a top-secret name on a manila folder and taught them how to crack ciphers. I set up "mysteries" for my friends to solve by leaving a trail of physical clues across all 19 acres of our farm.

I drew floor plans for my dream house in graph paper notebooks and took them to my engineer dad for his feedback, and came back with revisions after he explained some fire codes. I drew characters from the stories I wrote, and designed schematics of their loot and maps of their worlds. I made dozens of 2-inch-tall people out of polymer clay with my sister, and decorated every wall in my room, and eventually the ceiling, with art of my own creation: abstract paintings, construction paper collages, graphite portraits. Every Christmas my mom surrounded my stocking with whatever canvases and boxes of pencils or markers she’d stashed from secondhand stores and yard sales throughout the year.

When I discovered Microsoft Publisher on our Windows 95, another kind of world was opened up to me to explore. I made fake websites and book covers, and for one of sister’s birthday parties, I created a fake restaurant, printing a logo to hang in the kitchen and menus for all her friends. Soon I started producing newsletters. I talked some of my homeschool friends into submitting poetry, short stories, and book reviews for me to edit and distribute among our homeschool groups along with my own writing pieces each month. I was posting videos to YouTube in its infancy, editing webcam footage in windows movie maker. I finally got a camera one Christmas, and I followed around everyone I knew with it in-hand, and we joked that the reason my friends hung out with me was so they could all get cool myspace profile pictures. 

When I was 16 I went to public school for the first time. I had no problem making friends and getting a 4.0, while unabashedly wearing mismatched shoes or pilot pens hooked over the holes in the knees of my second-hand jeans. For a quarter I decided to wear a different handmade necklace every day—made of antique buttons from my grandma, pieces of metal machinery I found on walks, an antler I carved out of craft wood, plastic bread ties I melted with a lighter. I loved my art and biology classes alike, was on the school paper and yearbook teams, and was given the art award by the same art teacher who got my pieces into a show at the university, and consequently helped me make my first real sale.

By then, the joy of creating had been invaded by my urge to impress others. 

My junior year I 

ABOUT

I'm Sara, a hybrid creative based in Nashville, TN. 

Creating is the thing that makes me feel the most immersed in the present moment. I've found that it doesn't matter what I'm creating—I get the same joy putting acrylic on a canvas or etching designs into glass as I do when I'm in the woods with kids helping them build miniature cabins out of sticks and leaves.

I'm self-taught, inspired by just about everything, always excited to learn and try new things, and passionate about encouraging others if they have the desire to do the same. 

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