STORYTELLERS (Art with Heart): Sarah Ogren

Mixed media artist Sarah Ogren of Crystal Lake, Illinois, makes art that invites us on a whimsical journey into the subconscious mind. Using bits of decorative and antique paper, vintage images, plus her own acrylic paintings, watercolors, ink drawings, and handmade prints, Sarah creates fanciful dreamscapes where the secret, hidden part of self easily converses with the frank and exuberant child-of-the-heart.

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"Sweet Entanglement"

Sarah discovered collage six years ago as she attempted to pick up the pieces and reassemble a creative life--after the interruption of seven years worth of physical disability and pain. Previously a painter, she struggled with pain in the tendons of both of her hands. "It was very painful and left me unable to create during those years...When my hands started to get better, I began to experiment with collage. I found collage to be easiest on me physically and I quite enjoyed it."

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"Another Bird Brain"

Piecing together the puzzle--thoughts and dreams, snatches of memory, hopes for personal growth--the other reason Sarah favors collage is because it's the perfect medium for an artist with a background in psychology and Masters Degree in Professional Counseling. "I have always been amazed at how complex and often surprising a person’s inner life is," she says. Sarah communicates this idea of a "secret life within each person" by portraying human forms with animal- and tree-heads.

sarah ogren rooted

"Collage for me is representative of the layers of human experience. The animal heads are a kind of mask, a way of presenting to the world what we want others to see and not having to reveal our true selves," Sarah says.  "People's behavior, idiosyncrasies, and our struggles are always fascinating to me. I enjoy highlighting these points because I love showing how similar we all are. We all feel pain, love, disappointment, envy, happiness, etc. It's these things that connect us and make us human and I think it is these points of vulnerability and human emotion that help people to relate to my work."

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"You Should Never Allow a Bird to Do Your Hair"

The shared vulnerability and pain of the human experience shows up in Sarah's work with hints of the dark and surreal. But any discomfort is always tempered with a delightful sense of humor, soft colors, and sweet furry or feathered creatures. "I do enjoy keeping even difficult subjects light-hearted and fun," Sarah says, "because I don't think most things in life should be taken that seriously and we should all be able to laugh at ourselves a little."

"I find it intriguing that we all try to hide our weaknesses, but that our weaknesses are what make us human and make us similar and revealing them is what helps to bring us closer to one another." Sarah is discovering that plumbing the depths of self and unraveling the mysteries of the subconscious are one thing; sharing those mysteries and all of one's self with another is something else entirely: "I have over the past couple of years begun dating and really putting myself out there. This has proven to be fun and a struggle at times, but definitely rich in subject matter for my art!"

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"Maybe we could start over together"

Pieces such as "Maybe we could start over together" and "I have so much fun with you" are some of Sarah's creations that are based on her dating experiences.

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"I have so much fun with you"

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"Trying to find my place"

Sarah most often uses rabbits to represent herself in her work, but in her most recent piece, "Trying to find my place," she has become a crow. She explains on her blog:

"For me my home as always been a place where I felt safe. Where I could fully be myself without fear of judgment. The image of the house in this piece is quite literally my heart. I am quite the believer that each of us is the sole protector of our hearts. We must choose carefully who we share our hearts with; not everyone is ready for what we have to share or appreciative of it's gift.

Now usually I use a rabbit as my figures or the rabbit somehow makes an appearance in my work. Many times the rabbit is myself or a small part of my personality, but it is always the light-hearted version. The idea behind this piece required a tougher animal though. In this piece I have used a crow as the figure. Crows are such loud birds; squawking at the slightest sign of danger. They are in many ways nature's alarm system. What a great animal to help protect such a valuable piece of property. When the crow doesn't squawk, I will know I have found my place to rest."

sarah ogren humming bird
"Hummingbird relocation project"

Sarah illustrates such beautiful metaphors in such a fresh and lively style! And one of her favorite things about art is that everyone can relate to these metaphors in their own way, based on their own life experiences: "I may have created a certain piece based upon a specific event in my life, but I love it when someone can find their story somewhere in there too."

most certainly connect with Sarah's work, and I have found my story here too--especially in my favorite, "Hummingbird Relocation Project": finding the comfort of home wherever you are by finding a comfortable place within yourself and safety within the heart of others. I hope your "crow" soon ceases to squawk, Sarah, and you find someone with whom you can share your heart, someone who will treasure and protect it even more than you can by yourself! Thank you for your beautiful art, and thank you for sharing your story--and a piece of your heart--with "Storytellers!"

Sarah makes beautiful sculpture and jewelry too! You can find it all here in her Etsy Shop, and keep up-to-date with new works on her blog: www.SarahOgren.blogspot.com.

- - -
Speaking of physical struggles that limit the creative life...I'm having some trouble of my own with painful wrists and hands, plus a seriously annoying, constant twitch in my left eye that has been going on since before Christmas! Grrr!  I read an eye doctor's advice online about the twitching eye: "A twitching eye is a sure sign that you need to slow down and get some rest."  Hmmm...think there might be some good advice there? So, I've decided to cut back my computer time, hoping this will clear up these issues. I'll be aiming for just one post per week--a Studio Sneak Peak on Fridays--but will be posting "Storytellers" only now and then.  No big worries, but I'd be grateful for your thoughts and prayers! :)


  1. Praying for your wrists, hands and annoying twitch, Sadee! And thank you for sharing Sarah's art with us. Wow! I love it all!

  2. Yes, hope the hands get better soon and that eye twitch!! Thanks so much Sadee for the feature.

  3. The twin girls image is scary, little girl ghosts! Get well soon :-)

  4. praying for healing for you Sadee
    your light is appreciated in this form

    Love and Light

  5. That is one great interview. The statement that struck me most was the one about the richness of the inner life. And I love Sarah's surrealistic approach.

    Hope you are better soon!

  6. Such a beautiful and heartfelt interview. "You Should Never Allow a Bird Do Your Hair" and "Maybe We Could Start Over Together" were ones I connected with. I will certainly be checking out Sarah's blog and shop.

    As for you, Sadee, I'm glad you're taking care of yourself and cutting back to get some rest; your health is most important. I'll be checking in on your Studio Sneak Peeks.

  7. Girl, it sorta keeps coming back to "rest" for you, huh? I was reading Ps 23 the other day and "lead me by still waters" lit translates to "waters of rest". Praying you find your restful place. =)

  8. WoW what talent. This is an amazing interview and give me hope that I can make a little bit of time to play and dabble in art.


Thank you for being kind with your words and generous with your time!