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Sarah Muehlbauer Takes Plasticity and Memory Up in the Air

Posted August 3rd, 2012

Not quite the ouroboros, but pretty close.

Sarah Muehlbauer is a textile artist. And a performance artist. And a painter, and a gymnast, and a yogi, and an aerialist, and a writer. All of which, of course, suit her well for the 2012 Philly Fringe, where she’ll debut her first major piece as a director: WAMB, with her collective, SnakeEatTail. Trained as a visual artist, with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Sarah says that performance and physicality has always tied her work together.

“I think sculpturally about the body,” says Sarah. “I’m very tactile, physical. I’ve always had a movement practice.”

Sarah initially went to Madison to pursue a fashion design program. “At the end of the day, I was very dissatisfied with it. Drawing was hitting a note for me and challenging me in a way I can’t even explain.”

She changed to study painting at Madison, because, she says, “It was the only department you could get studios through. But we were encouraged to explore, so I did video, and explored performance there.”

Moving to Philadelphia in 2008, she met with a lot of upheaval, and an expansion of her interests into aerial performance. At the end of Sarah’s first semester, the Tyler School of Art relocated from its location in Elkins Park.

“The Tyler move pushed collaborative work. It pushed me to make work that wasn’t just out of my studio,” Sarah says. And while a friend suggested she consider aerial work, when she drove her Penske rental down from Madison, she had no idea that her new place in Germantown was only three blocks away from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. She took movement class there at first, but says from the get-go, “It was obvious I wanted to be up in the air.”

And perhaps most dramatically, the first weekend after Sarah started her studies at Tyler, she left town to present her first major show—at the Smithsonian.

After the jump: video from the Smithsonian performance, we talk about the stuffness of stuff, and about Jung and yoga.

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