We had the good fortune of connecting with Robyn Sanford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robyn, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Even now I am still discovering more about what interests me and fulfills me creatively and why I chose to work as an artist. I create art in many different formats but am only recently discovering that I am most happy when building directly with my hands. Much of my work requires pre-planning and some drafting in 3-D software since the work is large and structure needs to be considered, but I’m not truly happy until I am building it. I will generally conceive of work in how the viewer will experience it, which ties into what my work is about; so whether large or small I am thinking of how a room/space/wall will be seen, felt, heard, touched (or not), etc….and I think that is part of what drives me to continue to create – I want to reach people on that visceral level and affect their experience, at least for a brief moment.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently my work tends to focus on exploring different angles on the divide between the connections we are making online versus the non-verbal and physical communication we have when in-person. Made all the more relevant with current times, I endeavor to question the pros and cons rather than make any particular judgement on any perceived superiority of either, because I believe both are valuable. I create in a few different veins, including painting, sculpture, and photography but will tend towards large scale installations and interactive sculpture when I have the opportunity. I often use materials from discarded technology or references to online social signifiers along with scale, architecture, or interaction to create a physical link (or remnants thereof) with the viewer. As far as my career, I still consider myself a fairly new artist (at least professionally). I had a career in the art world and museums so I have been working in and around art for awhile. Becoming a professional artist was an easy decision but having the guts to leave a successful career in museums was difficult. I am not a very public person and am pretty guarded even with people I know personally. So my biggest struggle is the vulnerability that one has to allow to be able to put work out there and tell everyone, “hey, look at this thing I created and care about”. It is still a struggle every time I finish a piece and need to put it out through public channels. When I was young people warned me that being an artist is hard because of rejection but for me, I think the hardest thing is indifference. These days it just isn’t possible for galleries and curators and people on social media to give feedback to everyone so artist’s deal with a lot of perceived indifference all of the time. It’s those moments when people recognize your work or when someone is really enthusiastic about their connection to a piece that you have to keep focused on and store in your memory to call upon when you are really feeling unheard.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Assuming this person had no previous experience with Los Angeles (and there wasn’t a pandemic) I know I couldn’t cover it all so I’d probably start in my neighborhood. If we’re lucky the NELAart gallery night would be happening while they are here so we could walk around and enjoy the art and sample food and drink from a variety of great places. Food trucks and vendors on York Blvd or Mid-Wilshire, Salvadorian in Atwater, cocktails, music, galleries, and museums in Downtown, seafood in WEHO, and all the way out to Monrovia for my favorite Mexican restaurant. We must head to the mountains and several hikes around the foothills and of course a hike up to the Griffith Observatory for a view of LA feels necessary. I’m not ashamed to say we’d hit up a few amusement parks too, we’re lucky to have as many as we do locally and I’m all for embracing a little bit of our childhood. LA is unique in its scale and I’d love to have time to showcase my favorite of each part, but they’ll probably have to extend their stay…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband is first and foremost, he has been my biggest cheerleader through all the ups and downs of pursuing this path. I’m also fortunate that most of my friends are very supportive and encouraging even if they don’t always understand what I do. If I were to pick a significant moment, I would dedicate my shoutout to fellow artist Diana Folsom. She is an inspiration to me and helped me get my first commission, solidifying my resolve to pursue art. She makes beautiful work and I’m not sure she knows what an impact her support had on my life.