Art and Fashion Design: Sahara Clemons

Support the Stitch Please podcast and Black Women Stitch

Buy these amazing STITCH PLEASE pattern weights Made by Bianca Springer of Thanks I Made Them! 20% of September purchases will be donated to us! 

$15 to the Paypal account for a Black Women Stitch lapel pin! DM or email your mailing to address for free USA shipping. You can also use  Cash App  

Sustained financial support also appreciated here:

For as little as $2 a month, your Patreon support means a lot: Join  here Patreon

FREE SUPPORT Is also appreciated. Please rate, review, subscribe to the podcast. Tell a friend to do the same! 

Learn more about Sahara Clemons!

Sahara Clemons is a multimedia artist, designer and activist born in Washington, D.C., and based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Playing with both the traditional and unconventional, Clemons creates paintings on wood and fabric, wearable art and fashion design. Her work confronts interpersonal and intersectional concepts and provides commentary on the historic, political and social trauma of people of color and its effect on shaping identity. Her work has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Second Street Gallery, The Bridge Progressive Arts Institute and McGuffey Art Center. Clemons is a YoungArts alumni and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design.  From  Cville Tomorrow. 

More information on Sahara:
Follow her on Instagram

Her TedX Talk Art as Conversation

On the installation of her 2020 mural. 

Art Against the Clock

The Fall 2018 SOUP.  Sahara won.  

About her McGuffey Art Studio Residency 

Other mentions: The Nap Ministry  is a vital project. Check it out. 

Read Full Transcript

Lisa 0:15

Hello stitchers! Welcome to 'Stitch Please' the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Lisa 0:55

Hello, everybody and welcome to the stitch please podcast. I know y'all must get tired of hearing me saying this. If this is your first time listening to us, you will know that I say this all the time. I am delighted, thrilled and honored to have the guests that we have talking with us today I am speaking with Sahara Clemons, who is an artist based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though her work has been exhibited elsewhere. She is also currently a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. I think they call it RISD. I'm happy to have Sahara here. She is a muralist, a painter. She does work in fabric and textiles, she sews.

Lisa 1:37

We have the commonality that we both won the small grant, a soup grant, from the New City Arts Initiative here in Charlottesville, Virginia. When I won my soup award that year, Sahara was the person that handed me the ladle for the soup bowl. So the soup is a really wonderful program that New City Arts does. Basically they invite members of the community to come and eat soup, and listen to artists talk about projects. And then the audience, the dinner guests, vote on the prize, or vote on the winning project. The year before I won Sahara won. So when I competed and I won, she gave me the golden soup ladle. So it was really wonderful to be passed the torch, so to speak, from the soup conference that from the soup competition or the soup, the soup dinner, from her to me. That just made a special night even more special. So thank you for handing me the ladle Sahara and welcome to the program.

Sahara 2:43

Thank you. Yes, I was happy to be part of that experience. I guess since sort of the birth of the podcast, thank you so much for having me here. I've never been on a podcast before so I'm super excited.

Lisa 2:59

Oh, this is great. I'm so glad that I can show you something new, because you're always showing me something new. Whenever I look at your art, your paintings, drawings, sculptures, the textile design, I'm looking at something new. So the fact that I get to show you something new is a great treat to me. The soup grant that I won, I used the funds, I divided them in half and half was to host an in person event, I did a pop up sewing studio. Then the other half was to invest in equipment to make the podcast so it's like, I'm using my grant. See, look, we have the podcast, it's a real thing. So let's talk a little bit about The Soup. What did you What did you when you did The Soup, tell me what you won for this could help us get started and talking about all the things that you do. So when you applied for the SOUP, what was your project?

Sahara 3:48

Yeah, so when I applied for the SOUP grant, I was a part of the incubator program at the Mcguffey Art Center here in Charlottesville. So, for the project, I wanted to use the funds to enhance my art practice by getting an iPad which has been super helpful.

Sahara 4:16

As you know, someone who is also a part of the SOUP collective Izzo, who has become largely successful now, has been giving iPads. An iPad has been just such a huge help. Also just to create my work for the incubator show at the end of that year was what I utilized that the grant money for and so a large part of that was creating a wearable art piece in addition to I believe five or six other paintings in the collection, and I just really had a fun time being a part of the soup grant. Part of that community and utilizing that place and that space to give back to the community and be a part of the incubator program and for people to see my work and see what I'm trying to envision for my community, as a Black woman. Just all those things that I felt like that particular collection in general really just spoke to my vision and sort of, I guess, my brand as what I'm trying to develop as an artist. So the soup grant was really facilitative of my experiences that are happening right now.

Lisa 5:45

Yes, and the thing that I guess I wonder if you could talk a little bit about and this is something I would like to learn because I'm really interested in this kind of technology. How does an iPad help you as an artist? I know, this might be a silly question for you to think about. But for me, I had an iPad, and I used it to play Words with Friends in large type, like that was what my iPad was for. I did a little bit of stuff with the banking maybe, but like, I never thought about drawing with it or sketching with it or using it. Anything beyond like, you know what I mean? So I'm wondering, could you talk a bit about what kind of creative processes can an iPad open for people for artists?

Sahara 6:29

Yes, absolutely. What I use my iPad for is, I guess usually people use it for digital work, but I also use it for the first initial stages of creating my paintings. So I use the app or program Procreate. That just helps me to create a basis for my paintings and visualize the colorings, the portraiture, all those things. Then if I want to tweak anything, I can go back to the drawing board, take pictures of what I currently have on my painting, put that back into a digital form, and then rework it again. So it's just really a great way to know how to strategically make my paintings and make my works. From layer to layer and know what process would be the most effective in creating the work.

Lisa 7:32

Yeah, so like, I guess, I love to think about, like, in some ways, like almost the archive of the work lives in the device, somehow. Like you could have this version and that version, and then you can really translate from this digital space, you can translate from the digital form into a form that's, I guess, maybe analogs that exist like out there in the world in a way that's not fully digital. It makes me think about the ways that you seem to move very seamlessly between painting and like wearable art. For example, can we talk a bit about how you navigate that transition? What is the difference between making a painting and making a garment?

Lisa 8:32

I think you described this a little bit in your TEDx talk, and I'll put a link in the show notes, everybody to Sahara's TEDx talk, so you can hear her talk about art as conversation. I thought that the pieces that you put together you this painting, and then the garment that you made, they really did kind of it was this beautiful two way street between what some would consider art and maybe what others would consider craft. So how do you connect? How do you shift from a drawing with a pencil on an iPad or a digital pencil on an iPad? And sitting at a sewing machine to make something?

Sahara 9:03

Yeah, I mean, I guess like, as you reiterated, that my Ted x talk conversation really spoke to about how learning as an artist and creating work is about having conversation with yourself and seeing how you can divert out into new ways of making . So, in my art practice, I guess I really have enjoyed both painting and fashion design. Then when I brought those two things together, it just created a whole new way of thinking in terms of just what it means to have art on the body and what that means in terms of shape and design.

Sahara 10:01

And how that kind of livens up the work as something that can be worn and walk through and lived in. So I guess going from art as a 2D aspect and going from more of a 3D aspect, the themes are still there, the themes I'm still trying to cultivate are still there. It's more, so there's just more elements to it. So going from sewing, there's more of a trial and error aspect. As I was saying, from Procreate, I go in and out from digitalto painting, you still have that kind of back and forth in sewing, where you have to drape and design and then see how that works. If it doesn't go back to the drawing board, and see what you can come up with. Also just having a whole nother element of just the materiality of wearable art, in terms of unconventional materials.

Sahara 11:09

With either I usually love using paper and origami, those are some things that I usually like to incorporate in my verbal art, in addition to more conventional ways of making like painting, and painting on garments is another way I like to do my artistry into design. So I think I just always have had a love for color and textile, in how I carry myself and also just in my paintings. So I really feel like wearable art is just another extension of that. Oh, yeah, I'm just I just like to continue to explore.

Lisa 11:56

I really liked this phrase you use about art on the body. I think that that's even, it's such a beautiful, impersonal, precise phrase. I mean, you would think wearable art would be the same as art on the body. But for some reason, when you said art on the body, it made me think like, "oh, wow, what does it mean to think about a person as a canvas?" What does it mean to think about a person as a blank space? On which I can either place my art? Or? I guess maybe that's what design is? Saying like how you do for draping? How do you take these fabrics that really are these, you know, very flat objects, and then turn it into something that can really enhance, and really honor the human body or the human form? Do you think a lot about that when you're doing your design work? How do you imagine, like, when you approach the form, you know, the human form, the female form, the Black female form? How do you? How do you think about the body, in your art, in your wearable art, and maybe even in your painting?

Lisa 13:12

The reason I ask is because when you said wearing art on the body, I stopped, I thought instantly have the phrase, the body of art or a body of work, you know what I mean? When people talk about like someone's portfolio, or someone's, I guess, maybe not just a portfolio can't be a full body of work. I guess a body of work seems to suggest a scope of art and artistic practice. How do you think about like, you know, since particular, since so much of your work has spent is centered on Black women and Black communities. Do you have a particular vision in mind that you're trying to communicate or express in your painting that might show up different or look differently in textiles?

Sahara 14:01

Yeah, I mean, I feel like I don't know how much of variation there really is because, as you said, looking at my body of work I've seen or I've noticed, and in my practice that I've really wanted to cultivate is the idea of, of what art is, in terms of looking at the woman figure. And how, historically, that has largely been looking at nude figures and how I've kind of wanted to shift that in a way of showing the beauty of women also in terms of looking at clothing and how those two things interact with materiality and the skin. So with both my duty works, I have felt that there has still been a sense of design.

Sahara 14:57

My work entitled Woman In the Clouds was actually initially a fashion rendering.

Lisa 15:05


Sahara 15:06

Yes. It was not at first an intention to be more so it was like a kind of meshing of what I was thinking inside in terms of my experience as a Black woman, but also in terms of my love of design and how those things kind of mesh together was what became that piece. And what really started this idea in terms of what I wanted to kind of take forth in terms of our experiences of woman experiences of Black women, as kind of bodies of vulnerability and changing that in a way we're giving life to these these people by adding or just like intertwining it with art and design and fashion and how those things all go hand in hand in terms of expression of the self expression of our identity.

Sahara 15:06

For me personally, as you said, I am a little bit of an introvert and so I've always used fashion as a way to speak out. So that continues with my artwork and wearable art. SoI feel like there's not much of it's more of, I guess, like a spectrum or it's a more of a blurred line in terms of what is the process? Or what is the end result? What is the difference between my work and 2D work versus my wearable art or fashion design?

Lisa 16:42

I really absolutely love the rising of the woman in the clouds piece. I keep wanting to call it 'Rising Above' because the article about the mural calls it rising above new Sahara Clemons mural depicts the strength of Black women. So I was thinking rising above was name of that piece. It's not it's as you said 'Woman In the Clouds.' What I love about it is I can see now that you mentioned it how it could be, like I said a fashion study because that fabric that the woman in the is wearing on the reclining, you know when she's reclining and holding a lightning bolt in her hand. That fabric is gorgeous. I was like, Oh, I like some of that. I wonder if that's real fabric that she found or she's going to just design some fabric. It's really just beautiful. It's just so beautiful.

Lisa 17:31

You can really tell the things that you're describing about the depth, the texture, the text duality, you know, all of those things show up there. Tell me a bit about the lightning bolt that she's holding. What is that harnessing? Is that about power? Is it about light? Is it about joy? Is it about this, there's something so beautiful about the way you've incorporated natural elements, like the you know, with the sun and the light and the clouds? Can you talk a bit about what it means to hold lightning?

Sahara 18:06

Yeah. So for my mural I guess I really wanted to embody a kind of ethereal aspect to the piece and so, the title of the mural is 'Say Her Name' and so I wanted the lightning bolt to kind of signify a kind of a harnessing of power. But, also kind of a sense of reflection and a sense of, of just like knowing the path of what it means to be Black woman what that intersectionality of race and gender what and how that kind of culminates into an experience that can that can be challenging, that can be difficult, and adversarial and, and knowing that.

Sahara 19:04

So recognizing the power that one holds as something that is that is delicate and should be used wisely. I wanted kind of that harmony to be reflected through the use of the lightning bolt, the moon, and the sun that are all evident in the piece in her garmentry and her accessorizing and of course as you said her power lightning bolt being.

Lisa 19:39

You know what else I love about the piece is that I like how she's reclining. I feel like...actually I was gonna tell you my thoughts about the reclining, but maybe I should hear your thoughts first or do you want to hear my thought about the reclining and then you'll tell me what the right answer is.

Sahara 20:00

I will say I would want to hear your answer. I would say that as I said, art is a conversation. So, there is no right answer. There's only just exploration and extension of what we see in the art. Then it kind of creates its own answer within everyone else.

Lisa 20:22

Oh, you are so smart. I bet you up there killing them up there at RISD. I mean, really, there's a beautiful answer.

Lisa 20:30

Okay, so what I thought, when I saw her reclining, I was just thinking about the importance of Black women and rest. There's a project that I love, called the Nap Ministry. It's a Black woman led actually theological project, where she is on a mission to educate Black people. I think everybody but Black people in particular, about, you know, the dangers of capitalism and how it extracts labor from us and how we're not allowed to rest that she sees basically rest as reparation. She sees rest as resistance. It's, it's really a beautiful project. So I was like to see this woman reclining on her side in nature in a natural environment and still to be so powerful. It just felt to me like, I don't know, there was just something in there that seemed really valuable. For me, since I am looking at it, right, like, right this minute, like in a small format on a computer screen, instead of seeing it live and big. I couldn't tell if her eyes were opened or closed. From my screen, because it's again, it's a small computer, her eyes look closed. But then when you look, when I look closely, they're open.

Lisa 21:43

So there's something about the idea that you could imagine her with her eyes closed, you can imagine her with her eyes open. There's something about the idea of rest and how with, you know, the power that Black women do have, how there's always seems to be an expectation that we're kind of constantly moving. And there was something about having this person be still, you know, and just like, I don't know, relishing her power, which is so great that she doesn't even have to sit up or stand up to wield it. It just comes to her naturally. I don't know, that was what I saw in it.

Lisa 22:22

I don't know, when you create a piece like this? Do you have intentions that say, okay, instead of having her standing, or sitting in a chair, or in profile, I'm going to position her body this way? Does that impact how you start to, you know, shape out? Or sketch out a painting?

Sahara 22:41

Yes, absolutely does. Her position was actually a very hard thing for me to finalize. All the things that you said previously, those were things that I was thinking about, and she was in fact always sitting when I was doing the sketches, she was always in a reclining position. I just needed to figure out the best way I wanted to express those themes of rest and the kind of exploitation we get of Black woman and our work and our labor.

Sahara 23:23

My mother was a big inspiration for this piece. Just the things that she does in the Charlottesville community. And her relationship with me, all those things are things that impacted the way that I was creating the mural and how I wanted to showcase this, kind of unveiling of what it means to be a Black woman. Especially in this time of this unrest where how people react to, not necessarily new things that are happening within the Black community, and how that impacts the Black community.

Sahara 24:13

In terms of everyone, kind of gaining this uprising, and how it's tiring, and it's a race, we're all we're all dealing with this history of racial injustice and how and how it's happening now. It's just difficult to keep up with the power that we hold in terms of in terms of education and resistance and activism. But also just our own, in our personal dealings with these things. So that was really what I wanted to culminate in her position, in the lightning bolt, and just the entirety of the piece.

Lisa 25:03

I think that I think you really achieved everything that you're describing and more. As you said, whenever somebody sees this, they are going to have a dialogue with it or a conversation with it with their own in their own imagination. It was so funny, Sahara, when you were just speaking, and you said the word unrest, that was the first time I actually heard the the root, rest in that word. We talked about civil unrest, as if usually society is at rest. Society is not often at rest, because we have so many damaging and vexed systems that are constantly plaguing the lives of many people, especially those who've been marginalized in some way. So it makes me just think about unrest, the relationship between unrest and rest, and activism and the burdens as you were describing that just impinge on the lives of Black people all the time. That, you know, it's just it was just such a really beautifully, it was just so beautifully put.

Lisa 26:06

So thank you so much for sharing that. I want to take a quick break everybody, when we come back, we will I want to ask her about design school, and what that's like, because it sounds like it's a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Lisa 26:26

The 'Stitch, Please' podcast is really growing. I want to thank you for listening to the podcast and ask a favor if you are listening to this podcast on a medium that allows you to rate it or review it. For example, Apple podcasts or iTunes. Please do so if you're enjoying the podcast, if you could drop me a five star rating. If you have something to say about the podcast, you want it to include that a couple sentences in the review box of Apple makes a really big difference in how the podcast is evaluated by Apple, how it becomes more visible. It really is a way to kind of lean into the algorithm that helps to rate podcasts. If you had time to do that, to drop a little line in the review feature of the podcast, that would be really appreciated and would help us to grow even further and faster.

Lisa 27:31

We are back and you are listening to the 'Stitch, Please' podcast. I'm Lisa Woolfork, your host and I am talking with Sahara Clemons who is an artist, designer, sewist, a theoretician, an activist. She is doing all of this and continuing her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design where she is heading into her second year.

Lisa 27:58

Can we talk a bit about RISD, I did my undergraduate education at a small women's college in Boston. That was the first time I had ever heard about RISD. What I had heard was that it was the premier school for art and design. Now I have since learned that there's other schools of Art and Design but I think because I learned about RISD first, I think I learned about risk at about the same age that you are right now. So because of that, I think it's implanted in my mind as "Oh, RISD, design school, the end." Whether it's Pratt, there's this and there's, you know, the schools in New York, there's schools everywhere, you know, I just talked with a woman a few months ago, who's fantastic who went to Mississippi State University. There's design schools all over. Tell me about why RISD and what RISD and like what's your experience has been like there?

Lisa 29:03

I know it's a weird big question on the, on the heels of a weird big year. Yeah, it's hard to say what it's even been like, right, considering that. It's probably been like a lot of things and then Coronavirus happened and then it became something else on something else entirely. So, do you think you could formulate something about just the overall and then maybe I might ask you about some courses that you really liked?

Sahara 29:31

Absolutely. So I guess overall, I had a very wonderful experience at RISD. I guess it's a little difficult to go back to senior year and making that decision of what college I was going to go to but I really just loved the RISD community. I don't know I guess there's just something about it, something about Rhode Island, something about Providence that I really enjoyed. I also just really loved my first year in terms of how much it challenged me. Of course you have the the normal C's of college in terms of independence and being by yourself for the first time and what that means in terms of just living on your own and, and being responsible, but also just being an art school in particular and how you go through, I guess to me, it felt like a little bit of Project Runway where you had three projects a weekend, you had to had to quickly figure out what you wanted to do, and hope for the best.

Lisa 30:46

I think that you just sold everybody on RISD. I think all the sewists who listen to me regularly are like, "Oh, wait, I could go to a college that's like Project Runway, and they'll give me like, here's your challenge designers" and like that, that sounds really exciting.

Sahara 31:02

I mean, it definitely was. I really felt like I learned a lot from my peers and my professors. I felt like, I don't know, I think that when you're on your own as an artist, you can easily stagger into a hole. If you don't really know what questions to be asking yourself. So I feel like that's what RISD did for me. It helped me figure out what those questions were and ways to solve them and produce things that I wouldn't have produced before. So I think that's just the beauty of art school is that you get this time that is just freedom that you can experience where, when you're on your own, it feels like you, you have some sort of expectation for yourself to create something that fits into your brand, fits in to what you have been showing before. Whereas in school, it's a whole different ball game. You can do whatever you want, you can experiment and you can fail.

Sahara 32:20

So I always felt like, when I was there, I never wanted to look at things that people had done in the past, if it was offered to look at samples, I never wanted to do that. Because I didn't want to get an expectation of what I had to do or what should be done. And just see what my peers had created in that moment. So I think that really helped. I think that was really beneficial for me. I guess like socially, I had a really interesting time at RISD. I felt like I was able to get out of my shell a bit and make a great group of friends. I learned a lot about myself in how I navigate around the world, or just around people and just kind of get a greater understanding. College is difficult.

Lisa 33:22

Yes, yes.

Sahara 33:23

On multiple levels. I learned that pretty quickly. So I'm really glad. Um, I don't feel like I would have changed something about my first year experience, because I think it definitely was, was was critical for me to learn those lessons. So, I guess the one thing I would say I had difficulty with is the actually, when I had did have more of a choice two to align things with the themes of my work and what I'm doing currently, and how the racial themes of my work, how that played into what we have critiques at RISD. So there's often, I didn't know this until actually after the end of my first year is that there is a common silence in this critique work is based around racial themes and artwork. So I always thought it was just a V or something, but it's a whole entire thing. That is what happens in terms of how we speak up about race and how we, this kind of sensitivity that's happening nowadays in terms of how we talk about race. So how that reflects in art class is very interesting, and it's actually very impactful to an artist experience. So that would be one thing, but I would hope that way to get better at RISD and would hopefully just bring more forefront or more priority in terms of educating and just seeing how we can change this dynamic in terms of being afraid to speak on racial issues?

Lisa 35:21

Did you find that concern as part of the peer review process? Or did you find that from faculty as well? Did it go in both directions? I know that and I know, I asked, because I know that in institutions across the country, people are trying to figure out how to incorporate these kind of conversations into all aspects of the curriculum. People in architecture schools are thinking about it, people in art schools are thinking about it, people in English departments are thinking about it in math. It's not that people are trying, it's that institutions, at least some quarters within institutions are trying to say, "How can we prevent.. how much" I can't speak for people, how about I speak for myself. For myself, as a professor, as someone who teaches literature and culture, I want to ask my students, "How can we have these conversations? How can we think through these problems in ways that actually disrupt and dismantle these systems that have been harming all of us for you know, some people are harming Black people to really severe degrees, but these are also similarly harmful to white people too? How do we disrupt these if we can't even begin to have .. if people are saying things like, when I look at you, I don't see color, if they feel like somehow a critique about racism, or white supremacy is impolite."

Lisa 34:46

So I'm wondering, did you notice a reticence among was it among, like, Where did the reticence come from? You know, perhaps we perceive it as a well intentioned reticence. Maybe you don't want to say, "well, it was this teacher in this class", I'm sure you wouldn't want to do that. But, did you see them asking, you know, I remember from my own college experience, going and people, I went to a school in the north up in a small school in Boston, and the students that I met, even the same was true of graduate school, a lot of them didn't have a lot of experience with Black people. So they didn't know what to say, or they didn't know how to talk. That was very frustrating for me, because I had been Black my whole Black life and know nothing but Black people. So I knew we weren't, like, you know, something that you had.. we were people just like people, right. So, I don't know, it was just weird to kind of be in these types of environments, and think about ways to navigate something that was really just your daily life. So that kind of that was kind of a surprising thing for me, did that show up for you in ways that might have that might shape your artistic practice moving forward?

Sahara 38:01

I mean, I feel like it's just knowing where you can, where you can just get that feedback and get that advice. That's really kind of where the root is. It is both peers and professors alike and what are things that could be worked up to to change the dynamic? What are things that we can just automatically say to just relieve the tension in the room? And then we can pick up the conversation? So I've been lucky to have people in my life that have been able to respond to my work and tell me what things are working and things are not because it's difficult when you're talking about these themes that you need to know like, these are your your key audience, people who don't know how to articulate these things. And your trying to trust that. How do you know if it is coming across? How do you know if they can build on the conversation? If they won't connect with it, but they won't partake in the conversation themselves.

Sahara 39:23

So you have to ask, is that something that you have created on your part? Is that something that you have built with your work? Or is that something that is larger than that? Is that something that is more of a systematic thing, in which case that needs to be resolved? So that's the challenging part of it when you're dealing with art is that it's a fine line in terms of what we speak on. How do we speak on good racially based art like What does that actually mean? So I guess that's just something that really needs to be kind of looked at further in terms of the art curriculum, is how do we not just develop the skills, but also just develop more education in terms of what we're trying to articulate in our work? Not everyone knows we have our own experiences. But I know for sure that I don't know everything. When you're dealing with these themes, you can, you can only go so far on your own.

Lisa 40:45

Absolutely. I think one of the things that when you're talking about an art curriculum, one of the things that I would think would be important is that, that Black people, aren't the only people who have race. White people are raced as well. So if someone can say, “Oh, this is racial art”, because it's from a Black person. Then when white people produce art, that is similarly racial because white people have race. That's something that Toni Morrison talked a lot about was that white people sometimes forget that they are a race.

Lisa 41:16

That they have race and they carry that with them and it impacts everything they do just like our race impacts everything that we do. So that type of invisibility or that type of naturalization of whiteness shows up in so many aspects of, and this is what the consequences of living in a white supremacist society. That it's not like..I tell students white supremacy, isn't just Klansmen. It's this assumption that everything is white and that white then becomes neutral and the default. So then we don't have to talk about it because it's not marked and therefore it doesn't exist. All of that is just some dangerous mental gymnastics that operate in the way that centers whiteness, everywhere.

Lisa 41:58

You know what I wanted to ask you about. I really love the artist conversation. So I guess I'm turning a little bit to talk about what it means for you as an artist who also identifies or describes herself as an introvert. How hard is that? That seems like that would be like, is that hard? Is it easy? Does it help to fuel your creativity because you are reserved in the way that you interact with other people? How did or does it not make a difference?

Sahara 42:32

I would say, unconsciously, I'm sure it does make a difference. We are who we are, but, I would say that I think that my art in the way I process and how I make art, my introversion has definitely played a role in terms of just how I see the world and how I see, and how I am and just how I observe and then also just how I feel. I like how I parallel my introversion with my artwork. So I feel like I've always wanted to have a sense of subtlety and indiscretion in my work. But also a sense of boldness and blantant symbols and motifs in my work, to act as have some sense of expression of the themes.

Sahara 43:41

I think both of those things are what, I try to capitalize on. Creating work is definitely a difficult task because I'm always asking myself, is this something, that is, archetypical, is this something that's universal or is this something that will come across? So I feel like I've always wanted to say, more by saying less. So I've always wanted to do that in my work. I feel like that ties into how I am, personality wise. Yeah, I guess I feel like I've always been a little quiet, but I also feel like that has been an asset.

Lisa 44:42

It really is working out so beautifully for you and you are still at the early part of your journey. That's why I'm so delighted to be able to speak with you today. I wanted to just close with what's next for you. I see that in a couple of days you have something called Art Against The Clock.

Sahara 45:00

Yes. Yeah. I'll be at The Bridge Art Against the Clock on Sunday, 2:30 PM, I'll be doing a live stream of a piece. So you can, it's a fundraiser, so you can send tips in to the Bridge, and whoever has the largest tip will be getting an SGC original. Yeah, I'm really, I'm super excited.I guess this is part of my introversion, I'm a little freaked out in terms of showing the process of my work. Sometimes I feel like it's a bit of a hindrance for someone to see my work, me doing it. Yeah, so this would be an interesting experience. Right now, I guess I've been trying to take a little bit of time to do some personal work before I go to school. But yeah, I'm definitely excited to do a live stream of a painting. So yeah.

Lisa 46:10

Yeah. That sounds very fun and very brave for someone who describes herself as an introvert, I think. I think that it's going to be streamed on Facebook live and I'm like, Oh, I get to see it.This is going to be awesome. Where else, where can people find you on the socials, where can people find you If they want to look at some of your images and purchase some art, like where's the best way people can reach you.

Sahara 46:36

They can reach me on Instagram at SGC originals. I'm in the works of creating a website. so I guess stay tuned to that. But yes, and currently, commissions are open. But that is a really minute timespan.

Lisa 47:02

By the time you've heard this program, she will no longer be accepting commission.

Sahara 47:09

Yes, there you go.

Lisa 47:11

That's fantastic. Sahara, thank you so much. You all we've been listening to Sahara Clemons, who is an artist designer, fashion designer, muralist, in her second year at the Rhode Island School of Design, you can find her work on Instagram and she has limited availability for commissions. Thank you so much Sahara for joining us today. We're so grateful.

Sahara 47:40

Thank you so much for having me.

Lisa 47:55

You've been listening to the ‘Stitch, Please’ podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast, if you’d like to reach out to us with questions. You can contact us at If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon P-A-T-R-E-O-N.

Lisa 48:20

You can find Black women stitch there in the Patreon directory. For as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. Finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do for those that have a star rating, or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the ‘Stitch,Please’ podcast that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

You may also like...


Discount code SEWBLACKQC for 20% off at Spoonflower and 10% off at Crimson Tate.