Sarah Bowling (b. 1993) is a sculptor and painter from Denver, CO. Bowling received her BFA in sculpture and painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA where she is pursuing her MFA at Carnegie Mellon University.


As I lie in the tub and the last inch of water drains, I am reminded of the weight of my body. What was just submissively floating, now presses firmly against the walls of the tub, and I remember the power within this mechanism that is my body. In my work, I explore the power dynamics embedded within intimacy and relationships, the phases of vulnerability within the self, and the weight of desire.

Playfully exposing my vulnerabilities and surrendering myself as an art object, I obscure the roles of viewer and voyeur. The viewer is tricked by the facade of innocent imagery, such as beach balls, flowers, and seesaws, only to discover the objects function as surrogates for bodies. I am curious how bodies remember touch, specifically the overlap of touch associated with intimacy and trauma. An inner tube quickly returns to its spherical shape after being stretched open, while cast concrete permanently takes the shape of its prior womb. The perpetual limbo between being embraced/restricted, revealed/hidden, and autonomous/dependent is where my work finds traction.

I am interested in the anonymity of bodies. There is a common modern phenomenon, especially in the realm of online interactions, where bodies are physically or emotionally absent, yet points of connection are found, even through the veil of a screen or faceless exchange of text. I explore the degree to which bodies can be reduced and still retain their ability to prompt an empathic reaction. A figure without facial features, a body reduced to legs, two lovers intertwined as life vests, even a simple beach ball can elicit enough bodily resemblance to evoke empathy and connection. Although technology removes the closeness of face-to-face interactions and body language, technology seems to have created or unmasked a capacity in humans to find/appreciate/seek moments of connection with a complete stranger, a physically unknown body only familiar through image, text, or the imagination.

As daunting as it may be to expose oneself, I am not shy. My work is brightly colored, blingy, and unapologetically demands attention. Intrigued by the cyclical tendencies of relationships, especially the modern structure of finding a mate, I engage repetitive behavior in my work: piecing together thousands of fingernails, self-inflating fifty beach balls, slithering myself through an inner tube. I view my art as a language for the messiness of human connection. My work acknowledges strength in the weighted and the weightless, the inhale and the exhale, and reminds me of the potential agency that is my body.

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