“A Woman Most Curious of Natural Things”

Fossil. Mixed Media. Copyright (c) 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer
Fossil. Mixed Media. Copyright © 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer

I’ve never met Sarah Heller. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of her.

A blogger I often read — and sometimes link to — mentioned her name and recommended her website. I visited and became a fan of her artwork. I later discovered that there was a 6th degree of separation-thing going on between us. A past employer of hers is the cousin of a cousin of mine out in a LA. We also share a love for bluegrass music.

The first thing that caught my eye when I stopped by her site was the self-description: she calls herself an artist/architect. As someone with hyphenated artistic interests myself, I related. The current economic downturn and its effect in the field of Architecture has presented an opportunity — perhaps unintended — for Ms. Heller to reconnect with her passion for other artistic forms of expression.

Santa Monica Blvd #2. Mixed media. Copyright (c) 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer
Santa Monica Blvd #2. Mixed media. Copyright © 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer

We discussed art, architecture and new opportunities in the midst of economic upheaval:

“I got laid-off not to long ago. There is zero construction happening in Los Angeles… let alone California. I have focused all my energy into my art and FINALLY after all these years got a website up.

“An architecture education really opens the mind up to many other creative endeavors. I am actually happy to embark on something new.

Bulbous Line #2. Mixed media. Copyright (c) 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer
Bulbous Line #2. Mixed media. Copyright © 2009 Sarah Heller. All Rights Reserved. Photo by David Fischer

“I have been doing green residential architecture here in LA for a while and I stare at all the beautiful waste that goes straight into the dumpster during demolition.

“All the objects in my art are found….. mainly by walking around locally or while traveling and picking it up off the streets. Also one by one, my favorite stores have left and shut down. I’ve asked owners if I can step in and take some relics… they are always touched to hear that someone will miss them and that a memory of them will now be in a painting.”

Sarah’s story reminded me of an anecdote I read years ago about Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung:

A friend of Dr. Jung who had lost his job came for a visit. The man was in a despondent mood, filled with despair. But Dr. Jung had a different take on his friend’s situation. Where the friend anticipated difficulties, the doctor saw hidden benefits. Carl Jung suggested a toast. It was time to drink champagne and celebrate the coming opportunities.

I read this a long time ago. I don’t remember most of the details and I couldn’t cite its source, but I I’ve often found comfort from that anecdote through many of my own professional life’s unexpected changes. And I do remember the message at the heart of the story:

Our true life’s calling awaits around the bend of one of the many unplanned twist and turns we’re bound to encounter. It’s important to keep our eyes, ears and, most importantly, our minds and hearts open to the infinite possibilities.

Time to celebrate art and drink champagne with our friends.

You can visit Sarah Heller’s online Gallery or contact her directly at seheller@gmail.com with any inquiries about her work.

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