MFA IN SOCIALLY ENGAGED STUDIO ART
Trailing behind my mother as she wipes down the freshly cleared dining room table after family dinner each night, I quickly draw with my index finger along the table top, disrupting the thin layer of water coating its surface. Making swirling patterns, I watch the wetness disappear beneath my finger’s path. I am often brought back to my first art-making memory: a moment of watching wide-eyed, as the drawing evaporates as quickly as it was formed. I think methodically of these fleeting, intentional actions. As my art practice evolves, I still feel like this young girl—living in her own mind trying to better understand how to walk the world through touch, an eagerness to be absorbed in quietness, and by dissecting the systems that we live and participate within.
I make durational artwork focused around action, shared moments, and ephemeral connections in public non-spaces. The commute space serves as the site-specific position for these explorations. Machine making, the collection of audio fragments and found objects, and photography are the modes in which I map time and change. The commute is habitual; tinkering and art-making are habitual. Both daily tasks I perform in the public.
Examining the structures in which we live that dictate our everyday realities: this notion is at the core of my work. The commute contains a special character that is significantly abstracted from the concrete spaces in which we work and live. The travel, non-space serves as the place of investigation between the blurring of work and non-work, action and rest, and public and private. The Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Regional Rail serves as the site-specific position for these explorations.
As a member of the graduating Socially Engaged Art MFA/MA cohort, I pivot my understanding and connections to these topics as they relate to the unfolding pandemic. During these changing times, in some ways, my inquiries feel even more relevant than before. The reassessment of my art practice during a global health pandemic has allowed for deeper understandings of the failing systems related to transportation, access, wealth, and public health. COVID-19 unmasks American systemic structures in which the needs of the American public are negated. By reimagining what it means to make art and cultivate conversation within these shared moments of uncertainty, I have found opportunities to sit within the tensions of unmapped territory.
Sara Kleinert is a suburb-based artist making audio, machine building, and sculptural work stimulated by daily commutes to the city of Philadelphia. To some, SEPTA travel is burdensome, loud, and indirect, never quite close enough to one’s desired location. For her it is a container of exploration and she fills the 17.3-mile trek with daily intentional actions. Kleinert is compelled by spaces that border on public and private, as well as the economy of a place. She is currently completing an MFA in Socially Engaged Studio Art at Moore College of Art & Design, and has obtained dual-BFA degrees in Studio Art and Scene Design in 2017 from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.