Surreal and captivating, Shara Hughes' paintings have an otherworldly quality. She paints entirely from imagination, dreaming up vibrant colors and abstract forms that refuse to abide by earthly rules and regulations. "They're made-up landscapes. It's not about the picture, it's about the act of painting" says the Brooklyn-based artist. 

Walking into her studio, the first thing you notice are paint tubes. There are hundreds of them, piled high in no apparent order atop a large wooden table. "I don't plan anything" she explains, "no palettes, no sketches…” And why would she? Hughes—who keeps a punching bag nearby for “stress-relief”—is not interested in the easy option. She’s fascinated with the pain of painting. The in-the-moment agony of deciding between a line here or there; this color or that: “It starts with an ink stain and then I make decisions as I go.” Her work is the product of a mind in search of answers through the act of intuitively applying color to canvas. As she says, “I never really know how it's going to turn out."

Surreal and captivating, Shara Hughes' paintings have an otherworldly quality. She paints entirely from imagination, dreaming up vibrant colors and abstract forms that refuse to abide by earthly rules and regulations. "They're made-up landscapes. It's not about the picture, it's about the act of painting" says the Brooklyn-based artist. 

Walking into her studio, the first thing you notice are paint tubes. There are hundreds of them, piled high in no apparent order atop a large wooden table. "I don't plan anything" she explains, "no palettes, no sketches…” And why would she? Hughes—who keeps a punching bag nearby for “stress-relief”—is not interested in the easy option. She’s fascinated with the pain of painting. The in-the-moment agony of deciding between a line here or there; this color or that: “It starts with an ink stain and then I make decisions as I go.” Her work is the product of a mind in search of answers through the act of intuitively applying color to canvas. As she says, “I never really know how it's going to turn out."

Unlike most artists, Brie Ruais begins her process on the floor, sitting on top of a giant mound of clay—precisely around 130 pounds of clay, or whatever is equivalent to her body weight at the time. From there, Ruais rotates in a choreographed routine, using her fists to push the clay outwards from the center in wild bursts of energy. After ten minutes the work is done, ready to be fired in a kiln. 

Though short, the process is highly intense, a sprint rather than a marathon. It requires total mental and physical presence from its creator, something seldom found in today’s digitized and disembodied existence. “I think there’s less awareness around our relationship to our environment,” says the sculptor. “My process really puts me in my body, and that is embedded in the material.”  In addition to her expansive, circular sculptures, Ruais also works with woven, interlocking structures—something she views as a metaphor for the interconnected nature of the universe. On closer inspection, one can detect fingerprints and fabric indentations. They are telling signs of how the hardened clay was once wrestled into its current form. “It’s a physical record of my existence” she says, “like walking a trail and leaving the footprints behind.”

Unlike most artists, Brie Ruais begins her process on the floor, sitting on top of a giant mound of clay—precisely around 130 pounds of clay, or whatever is equivalent to her body weight at the time. From there, Ruais rotates in a choreographed routine, using her fists to push the clay outwards from the center in wild bursts of energy. After ten minutes the work is done, ready to be fired in a kiln. 

Though short, the process is highly intense, a sprint rather than a marathon. It requires total mental and physical presence from its creator, something seldom found in today’s digitized and disembodied existence. “I think there’s less awareness around our relationship to our environment,” says the sculptor. “My process really puts me in my body, and that is embedded in the material.”  In addition to her expansive, circular sculptures, Ruais also works with woven, interlocking structures—something she views as a metaphor for the interconnected nature of the universe. On closer inspection, one can detect fingerprints and fabric indentations. They are telling signs of how the hardened clay was once wrestled into its current form. “It’s a physical record of my existence” she says, “like walking a trail and leaving the footprints behind.”

READ MORE: The March Agenda

READ MORE: The March Agenda