Sandra Felt is a self-taught fine artist based in New Jersey whose medium is light and paint. I had the wonderful opportunity to get a tour of her studio and chat with her about her unique processes. She assembles installations of unusual items (cut up food insulation box liners, chandeliers, and Christmas lights) that, when captured through her macro camera lens, become enchanting abstract worlds of moving light. Sometimes she finds herself dancing on her feet to create these photos! I was amused to discover she also has a portable sauna in her basement studio, allowing her to recharge and contemplate her work from afar.
TELL ME WHAT YOU DO AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED.
I am a photographer, and I dabble in abstract painting. I think of myself as a truncated artist! Art in my childhood and circumstances was something that you saw at a museum during a school trip, not something that could be a way of life. I discovered art after my children were adults, and I started asking myself what gives me joy. At about the same time, I came across Mary Oliver's poem, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life." In my quest to answer these questions, I started traveling. I stumbled onto photography after meeting a wild tiger in Rajasthan, India! From there, I came home determined to learn photography. In doing so, I started finding myself and became hooked.
Three of Sandra's photographs.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Currently, I have two main projects that I am working on. One connects spoken words with my images. For this project, I've had to really slow down my photography process because I find it challenging to figure out what and why I am creating a photo. The associations have been exciting to see. My second project, I've been working on it for a few years now. This is where I think of the camera sensor as a paintbrush, and I try to move the camera as I would a paintbrush. For this body of work, I create structures that I light and then add my movement to create an image that, to me, captures the interaction between myself and the objects.
Closeup of one of Sandra's assembled structures of found objects.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Finding my voice, to physically see my thoughts executed feels fantastic.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF MOVEMENT IN YOUR WORK?
The role of movement is critical to my main body of work. I use multiple forms of action to include in my photography. Cameras capture movement in ways that our eyes do not, and that's exciting. Moving water, wind, dancing, racing are all forms of action that can influence an image and its impact on the viewer because of the artistic blur that such movement can create. Think Impressionism which aims to capture a feeling or experience instead of an accurate sketch.
One of Sandra's artworks, created from moving light.
YOU'VE BEEN TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD WITH YOUR CAMERA. HOW HAS TRAVEL INFORMED YOUR WORK?
I think that if I had not experienced that tiger in India that I might not have become a nature photographer. That was the motivation that prompted me to become a photographer. I can't imagine life without my camera now.
DESCRIBE A MEMORY OR FEELING YOU HAVE WEARING ONE OF YOUR NOT PIECES.
I love wearing NOT's asymmetrical shorts! They remind me of Peter Pan and make me feel young again! I feel happy and lighthearted wearing them!
WHAT PURCHASE OF $100 OR LESS HAS MOST IMPROVED YOUR LIFE RECENTLY?
A kneeling pad from the garden center! My knees really appreciate it for kneeling on rocks or cement floor as I am prone to do.
WHAT IS AN UNUSUAL HABIT YOU HAVE?
When I travel, I always carry a hot water bottle to warm my bed no matter where I go! I can't sleep if I am cold!