Face It

Sarah Stieber

Contemporary artist Sarah Stieber is a force for good that I love to find.  She is a recognised artist in her own right but I had never seen or heard of her work until recently when I came across these images from her Face It Project. I was so astonished at the captivating emotions and beauty these paintings encapsulate that I wanted to discover more about this artist. When I come across incredible talent like this, I can't help but want to share it with everyone I know including to all of you reading this. I simply believe in sharing art and sharing what you love. 
So since I wanted to get to know this incredible woman behind the art, I reached out and asked her if she would be up for sharing a bit more about herself and her work for this blog and here we are I introduce to you Sarah Stieber...
When did you realise Sarah that you could paint and decide that it was something you would pursue?
I was always ‘that kid’ who was drawing and painting every waking moment.  I received a lot of kudos for my artistic talent as a child and won a few national art contests when I was seven and eight years old.  As a shy and self-conscious little girl, that recognition bolstered my self-esteem and became part of my formative identity.  
All I can remember truly wanting to be when I grew up was an artist, but societal pressures made me second guess the validity of that dream.  I did study art in college but concentrated in psychology and my practical side assumed that I would attend graduate school later to become a therapist.  As graduation approached though, I remember having a defining moment where I thought, “Screw it.  I may as well give this lifelong dream of being a working artist a real shot.”  I painted and hustled really hard right out the gate and haven’t stopped painting or hustling ten years later.  
 I instantly felt connected to your work because I could see the female empowerment it represents and I love the emotions in the faces. Do you think the art world is changing with talent like yourself expressing these new ways to view women, or it still needs more time and talent to keep this message going?
Thanks so much.  Gosh, I hope so.  It is certainly disheartening to recognize how many more successful working male artists there are than female artists, and of course that inequity determines the type of visual language we consume as a society.  I believe that the more honest work is created and consumed by female artists the better the art world and the world at large will be.  
There is a way to go, but  I believe new movements such as the Bennett Prize, created by art collectors Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt to propel the careers of female figurative painters, are creating progress.
The face it project is amazing! I really love each piece of work from this series. How did this come about and can you explain for those who don't know about this series of work what it is and means?
I’m so glad FACE IT resonates with you!  The past few summers I have hosted a pop up art gallery in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.  The summer of 2018 I was dumbfounded when several men walked into my gallery, looked around at my paintings of strong women, and said to me “Sarah, I love your style but can I commission you to paint something like this?”  Then they would pull out their phones and show me a painting of a nude woman from the neck down.  
For years I have been frustrated seeing so much artwork featuring women without faces (please note: artwork of men almost always have their heads fully intact), and this experience felt like the last straw.   I created FACE IT, an art and film project profiling and celebrating female artists, activists, and thought leaders who are changing the world for women.  My hope is that this project will infuse the art world with powerful women and change the way women are portrayed in art and culture.  
How do you start a new piece of work, do you already have an image in your head or is it more of an organic gradual process? 
I usually start with an idea and then arrange a photo-shoot to use as reference material for that painting.  My photoshoots are often over the top productions with models, assistants, and tons of props.  I often create backdrops, decorate clothing, and bedazzle faces to make the image in my head come to life.  It’s my goal to bring out the most vibrant, fierce, and authentic version of my models so there’s usually quite a bit of Beyonce blaring and me screaming positive affirmations.  Once I have my reference photo(s), I’ll start painting. The process is straight paint (or tape) on blank canvas.  I paint democratically, layering the entire surface with large blocks of color until I love the way it looks.  
 Who inspires you the most? 
The question of inspiration can be so difficult to answer because as an artist my entire life experience is fair game for inspiration.  I do however find steady inspiration in color, travel, people who are empowered and living with purpose, and style.  
Contemporary artist Sarah Stieber's style of Electric Realism is a stunning amplification of real life, using bejewelled palette of brilliant hues and evocative energy to explore a spirited reality. A spectacle of saturated colours, her paintings are a kaleidoscope to her world of wishful seeing, magnifying the human experience with dazzling colour too often hidden in plain sight.