An Artist in Nature, in Motion
by Renée Tillotson
For Sarah Hodges, growing up in the nature of Hawai’i deeply influences everything she does. From Painting, to dancing, to writing – Sarah feels a resonant whisper of the island breezes, the lively rhythmic movement of the rolling, crashing waters of the ocean, and the gentle touch of the plant life’s assuring presence – throughout all that she experiences and creates.
Perhaps you’ve seen Sarah’s name as the by-line for a number of our Life at the Center articles these days. And perhaps you’ve noticed the poem on the wall of Still & Moving Center inviting you to “Claim your magnificence!” That is precisely what this multi-talented young woman has been doing recently. And people who matter are noticing.
If you already know Sarah as a lomilomi therapist who worked on Hollywood stars when she was in LA, you might wonder where she’s doing lomilomi these days. If you know she’s a lovely violinist, you might wonder where she’s playing these days. If you are aware of Sarah as a skilled photographer, you might ask where she’s doing her photoshoots. If you’ve watched her on stage as a dancer, you might ask, “What piece will she be dancing in next?” All great questions!
And here’s what I can tell you:
You’ll be delighted to learn that Cheryl Flaharty, artistic director of IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre Company, has chosen Sarah to represent Pele, goddess of the volcano, in the company’s upcoming Hawaiian goddess piece! Sarah is even helping Cheryl to assemble her fabulously creative costumes. Anyone watching Sarah’s graceful lines as she moves in the early stages of her volcano costume will feel transported by her depiction of this larger-than-life character. I can’t wait to see what happens when she erupts onto the stage in her full regalia for the first performance!
Moreover, Sarah starred in a short video that won an award at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival – as a hula-dancing souvenir doll who comes to life! The film was deliberatly shot on an old camera with a single roll of film and no option to edit it after shooting, as per competition guidelines.
Meanwhile, Sarah has been vigorously pursuing two other talents: art and writing. An article of hers is just about to come out as the cover article in the Classical Arts section of a brand new lifestyle magazine called Radiant Light.
Let’s trace a bit of her colorful journey to this point. Sarah began to study painting at age 12 with her grandfather, the renowned classical painter Snowden Hodges. She went on to study art formally in New York at the Grand Central Academy and in Italy at the Florence Academy of Art, where she spent a year painstakingly reproducing great masters’ pieces, almost brush stroke by brush stroke.
After silently sitting in a museum immersed in dead artists’ work day after day, Sarah’s free spirit needed to move. She began dancing again and threw herself into learning lomilomi massage with one of Hawaii’s masters, a kumu lomi known as Uncle Alva, and went on to practice lomilomi professionally in Los Angeles for several years. I’m happy to say that you can now schedule Sarah for a lomilomi at Still & Moving Center – either at your place or at our Queen Street address.
For years, while Sarah was honing her lomilomi skills, her paint brushes sat patiently awaiting her return to the canvas. Her grandfather kept coaxing her to paint again, but the impulse just wasn’t there.
Perhaps falling in love did the trick. While going on photoshoot explorations of natural spots and city streets with her partner Greg, a professional cinematographer, something lit up in Sarah. She pulled out her canvases and the paint started to spill across the open spaces with bright bold studies in the faces of humanity. Faces of every color overlapped and interweaved, filigreed together with Sarah’s elegant whimsy. I love her watercolors, and we’ve featured her pieces in a number of our articles. Her exquisite photography also graces our newsletters, website and social media.
Now that she’s back on island, Sarah’s jamming again with local musicians….. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t realize that folks who play classical violin can join improvisations with Hawaiian musicians on ukulele, guitar and all manner of other instruments. But they can, and Sarah does. Yep, she plays a mean violin. Who knew?
Over a year ago, Sarah began helping me with Still & Moving Center’s many publications, and surprised herself at how much she enjoyed writing, which she really hadn’t done much of since college. Our active, progressive writing style didn’t come easily after her years of writing in academic settings, yet Sarah was determined to re-craft the way she used the written word and to get published in a printed medium. So, she embarked on a 3-month intensive online writing course.
Even before she finished the course, Sarah pushed herself to submit a story to a new magazine, Radiant Light. Voila! Radiant Light accepted her story and gave her a spot on their writing staff. Sarah’s upcoming cover article acquaints the reader with Joshua Jacobo, founder of the online art school New Masters Academy. What fascinates me about this article is how Sarah integrates several of her passions in one place: writing, painting, moving and music.
In the article Sarah echoes her own experience years ago, learning to paint by mimicking classical masterpieces. Sitting at her easel in the museums of Florence, Sarah learned a lot about the outside form of the art, yet she found the staid process to be tortuously stultifying. By studying with and interviewing Joshua Jacobo recently, Sarah makes a huge realization: the critical nature of movement to learning art. As Jacobo instructs his students to copy the etchings of Renaissance master Ordardo Fialetti, he asks them to pay attention to their own body movement. Sarah quotes Jacobo as saying:
“At first your lines may be scratchy and not graceful until you realize you need to draw from your shoulder and wrists. What we often don’t think about in drawing, painting, and sculpture is that it’s just like dance: there’s no shortcut for the body. The body has to move in certain ways for the lines to work properly….
Every line has a movement: a gesture. As you start to draw them, you can see how every single line has an intention. They are like different notes and different instrumentalists coming together as part of an orchestra, playing towards one composition. And that composition is about movement. It’s about roundness versus straight. It’s about twisting. It’s about the expression and feeling,”
And here is my favorite passage from Sarah’s article:
“When you look at one of Fialetti’s etchings, his sweeping lines and precise cross-hatching explain the form of the object in a symphony of marks. Some are short, some long, and all seem to move with effortless gusto along the paper.”
Music, dance, and art all pulse through Sarah’s words! No wonder people are stopping to take notice!
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)