January Featured MCA Member: Sara Palumbo

As part of the Maine Craft Association’s goal to provide access to craft for all, we are always seeking and exploring new, exciting ways to bring craft artists and their process to the public for education, enjoyment, and more. For our first exhibit of the year, we are showcasing a new-to-us form of exhibition featuring Sara Palumbo, felt artist and Shamanic practitioner, where visitors to the Center for Maine Craft can view every stage of the exhibit as it is brought to life. From inception to creation, and finally display, visitors will see the full labor of love that goes into a fine craft exhibition.

A native of New York City, Sara now resides and practices in Bath, Maine, a small seaside village that is the perfect blend of vacationland and renowned Maine industry, known for good food, visual and performance art, and traditional Maine hard work. After years of city life, Sara and her husband were called by the land back to his home state of Maine, ready to settle in somewhere away from the hustle and bustle, closer to family.

As she works and displays pieces in the exhibit space at the Center, Sara hopes visitors will be challenged to look at art and craft differently through the creative process, as well as the experiences of themselves and others; and that visitors can attune to a new vibration within themselves or others, and take the time to talk to another person, learning about their story through spoken and unspoken word.

Q+A With Sara Palumbo

When did you first begin wet felting? How did you choose this medium?

I began my journey with wet felting three years ago when I was introduced to Susan Mills and her mixed media felted work. Her work spoke so deeply to me as she was pulling from the same spiritual well as I was just diving into. I started to take classes with her and it was a perfect fit.  My previous experience in the arts is in photography coursework at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, the International Center of Photography in NYC and Lorenzo di Medici in Florence, Italy. I also studied classical and jazz flute for eight years and performed in and around NYC and the New England coast. Photography and music are still loves of mine but felting seems to be the way in which I can express my vision in its purest form. Wool is so forgiving and creating abstract forms is freeing to me. My process is conversational and collaborative with the wool and the found objects I use. I love seeing what is birthed and its message.

What sent you down the path toward Shamanic practice?

I heard the call of the spirit world before I left my mother’s womb it just took me 35+ years to finally answer it. When I moved from my hometown of NYC to Maine everything started to shift. I was mending myself from Lyme Disease and felt like I was given a second chance at living by moving to this soil. I took a shamanic workshop with who is now my mentor and it was like I was remembering a practice not learning a new one. I started developing a daily practice and then embarked on a one-year apprenticeship followed by ancestral healing training along with other workshops. I can’t imagine living without the wisdom of my guides and this healing practice.

When did you discover that your art and practice would meld so beautifully together?

I was several months into my shamanic apprenticeship and on the cusp of entering 2018 when I became fully present to the interconnectedness of my spirit life and art. There was no way to separate them – they were and are one. I see my role in this artistic process as getting out of the way so the piece can be birthed in the way it wants to be. I experience my pieces as living beings that have a voice and expression. Much like I see all things – with life and a vibration.

Who have been your greatest mentors in both areas?

Kaye Lawrence of Windhorse Circle is my shamanic teacher and mentor. Her guidance and wisdom has changed my life and widened the lens in which I look through. Susan Mills is my artistic mentor. Her vision and energy pushes me to take risks in the way I express myself and live my life.  Both of these women are true gifts to the world and I’m blessed to learn from them and work with them.

Are you excited to do the residency exhibit at the Center for Maine Craft? What prompted you to take part in this unique exhibition?

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be the winter artist in residence and create an installation! I received an immediate internal YES when I learned about the residency. I feel so fortunate to have the space and freedom to create an installation that will represent the stories of people who call Maine their home. I’m calling this installation – Words into Wool. It’s an idea that formed two years ago and is ready to take flight. I see this project as the joining of the seen and unseen worlds, the spoken and unspoken word. I will be meeting with storytellers, listening to their experiences, take a shamanic journey to the spirit of the story and experience they shared and then create a felted piece. It’s formed into a play on Archetypes and how you never really know what’s behind the mask until you hear the story.

What new inspiration and/or tools do you hope to gain from the experience?

This residency will be the first opportunity I have had to dedicate uninterrupted time to my art. I’m looking forward to trying out new felting techniques, creating large structural pieces and being in a public space so that I can interact while creating.

Learn more about Sara Palumbo, her craft, and her practice on her website.

Watch Sara’s work in progress emerge and blossom at the Center for Maine Craft from January 7th – February 29th 2020.