Sarah Rebekah Byrd Mizer – Richmond, Virginia

(detail) Glass Wallpaper Pattern no.1 : Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Glass and gold leaf, 2013

(detail) Glass Wallpaper Pattern no.1 : Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Glass and gold leaf, 2013

Briefly describe the work you do.

I am a 2-d maker: installations, relief sculptures, books, billboards…I have two degrees in Craft, both with a focus in glass. Glass plays a prominent role in what I do. 

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

As an athlete from childhood through college, I have invested great amounts of time, energy and focus into playing around. Play can sometimes be misinterpreted as superficial or frivolous but it has been my foundation for in-depth research and work. There is a bridge in thinking about sports and thinking about making. Both are independent, acute and self-propelling. Both require honed skill level and both require a greater understanding of nuance and context. Today this means that I have acquired a certain amount of discipline and self-awareness. I am critical and driven but at the core of what I do, I still consider it to be playing.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Generally I toll away at any flat space with terrible posture, plugged into my computer while serial watching trash TV.  Isn’t this everyone’s studio?

A Roadside Attraction: Providence RI, Billboard. 2012

A Roadside Attraction: Providence RI, Billboard. 2012

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I don’t know what I had envisioned and I am not certain how I got here so to say that it is different from what I had envisioned would be misleading. With any profession the awareness that comes from working in the field is always humbling and eye opening. Both vast and insulated, this world we work in is full of surprises. 

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

Often I am fueled by deadlines, which is to say that I work around the clock for bursts of time. If I had my choice in the matter, I would say that I am inclined to do the most productive work in the mornings but that is rarely an option. I like to wake up and immediately make progress (this is a family trait, I am afraid). I wish I did this more often.

Verdant Grassplot. Glass, flocking, red oak. 2012

Verdant Grassplot. Glass, flocking, red oak. 2012

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

The work evolves slowly, I tend to think about things in threes so for about three years I will focus on a topic and move on without much pomp and circumstance. Formally, I am not sure if it has changed much in the last five years though a shift has occurred mentally. Initially I found myself stumped by the completion of a deadline and for moths at a time would be scavenging for ideas. Finally, completely disgusted with this process, I stepped back and revisited the reasons I have for making work, what I hope to achieve with the work and why I am making at all. Revisiting these big picture questions helped to re-focus my approach: instead of lusting after the next fête, I steadily make hoping to know beauty. 

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

One of my most favorite items is a grocery list written by my grandmother. It isn’t special in any way other than it is in her handwriting. I had it framed because it is such a lovely thing to remind me that the small day-to-day nothings are what it is all about. That is everything and nothing and that is what we strive for and are lucky enough to be part of. 

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

Can’t even imagine such a thing…can’t. 


headshot_SRBMOriginally from Providence, RI, Sarah Mizer is a Richmond based artist whose work ranges from billboards to small glass objects. Sarah’s has exhibited extensively, from Los Angeles to New York, Milwaukee to Houston, including her hometowns: Richmond and Providence. This summer, Sarah will be showing one of her Glass Wallpapers in part of an exhibition titled Art We Use at Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH. Her glasswork was part of a contemporary craft exhibition at the Taubman Museum titled Ambiguity and Interface, curated by Ray Cass and Howard Risatti. Sarah’s work is in public collections at Alfred University and Pam and Bill Royall’s Try-Me as well as many private collections.

Upcoming, Sarah will be an Artist in Residence at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft from June through September 2014.  She too has been an Artist in Residence at Haystack Mountain School of Craft. She is the Administrative Director and Assistant Professor in the Art Foundation Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Sarah also sits on the Board of Directors for 1708 Gallery. With a background in glass she holds her MFA from VCUarts in the Craft/Material Studies department and her BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. 

In the Studio

In the Studio

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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1 Response to Sarah Rebekah Byrd Mizer – Richmond, Virginia

  1. Rebekah Mizer says:

    As Sarah’s very proud mom, I am ALWAYS amazed at her eloquence! Lovely!!!!!

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