Q&A Sessions: Sara Rayo

About Sara Rayo

Sara is a New York artist based in Bogotá, Colombia. She graduated from Pratt Institute, with a BFA and also had a residency at School of Visual Arts. Sara is the daughter of famous Colombian artist Omar Rayo and is also the Design Advisor for The Rayo Museum, responsible for designing and maintaining the identity of the museum and its website amongst other endeavors. She has been teaching Graphic Design for the past 7 years at various Universities in Colombia.

She’s had several exhibitions of painting, printmaking and photography in galleries and museums in Colombia, Ecuador and New York; has published seven books (Ediciones Embalaje) Rayo Museum. Additionally, she has a permanent mural sponsored by the Rayo Museum, and various artist billboards on the local highway leading to the museum.

Currently, she is exploring a new found love for paper sculpting which she has exhibited throughout Colombia. Her most recent project is a donated piece to Colombia Gives Back, Notes of Pride, which will be auctioned at a benefit in Miami in November. All proceeds will go to this cause.


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Obviously having a famous artist as a dad influenced you but how specifically did your dad influence you to pursue art?

There is one phrase that my father once said to me that really stuck with me and has resonated recently; “I could have been a millionaire stock broker on wall street but I decided to pursue my heart and gut and that was being an artist. Go after what you truly feel, what your heart tells you.”


Other artists that have influenced you and why?

Julio LeParc was a friend of my fathers and part of the same group of emerging latin american artists in New York, I never really looked into his work until I started working geometrically and on paper. HIs cohesion of geometry and 3 dimensional abstract work is amazing.

Ernst Haekel a biologist who studied and documented all types of life forms painting them meticulously from under the microscope, has shown me the wondrous geometric world from under the microscope. Diatomes and radiolaria have been an incredible inspiration.

Photographer Karl Blossfeldt, also had a love of nature, the detail and eye for the beauty in nature has always moved me.

More contemporary paper artists like Andrea Russo, Richard Sweeny and Matt Shlian are all simply inspiring.


Did your Colombian upbringing influence your personal & artistic style?

Growing up in New York, and college in Brooklyn put me in contact with many cultures. As a family we traveled with my father around the world to his different exhibits, and got to see many different countries cultures. Summers in Colombia were full of vegetation and greenness of salsa and “mango viche”. I think its my whole experience put together, the juxtaposition of the concrete jungle that is New York and the green rolling hills of Colombia that brought out my style.


You’ve gone from commercial art, fashion and fine art. What did you like about each and why?

I worked in commercial art mostly in the states where it pays much better than in Colombia. The rush, the timelines and the constant demand for creativity was a thrill. You learn to be quick and precise and meticulous.

After living in Colombia a few years, I had the opportunity to create a fashion line for CaliExpo Show in 2011. I had originally wanted to study fashion design at Pratt, so getting to design a line after so many years was a dream come true. I had free reign to design using my own fashion style and my geometric addiction flourished. I must say it was stressful but so rewarding seeing your designs on the runway!

Fine art has always been part of my life, in high-school, throughout college and my graphic design career I always was creating art on the weekends and late nights when I wasn’t at the office. All that work turned into various exhibitions throughout the years but it wasn’t until I decided to do a summer residency at SVA in 2012 that everything came together. It was certainly intense and daily critiques from professors but it was that extra push that I needed to really kickstart my career. I have never felt so free, or so creative. Investigating for my work comes naturally.

numb5What was your most pivotal moment of your career so far?

Working full-time as an artist. Its scary letting it become your sole source of income, your business, but it is also so liberating.


How did you come up with the idea to create paper works?

I have worked with paper alongside my father with his intaglio works. Since I was little I saw how he could bend and extrude paper, so my transition to paper was not difficult, if anything paper became my muse.


How has becoming a design professor changed the way you pursue your art?

Teaching college students puts you in the present. Not only are you teaching them, but they wind up teaching you so much more. Graphic arts and fine arts are similar in many ways. Projects I create for the class, I wind up using on my own work as well.


Going between Colombia and New York, what do you see the global art scene changing?

In Bogota we have an annual art fair – ArtBo and others like Odeon going on in October, like Art Basel in Miami. It has been growing for the past 10 years and I really have seen how the latinamerican market is growing and new artists are emerging. In my opinion the New York art scene has become a bit saturated, other cities and countries have so much to offer.


Where do you see your career 5, 10 years from now?

I see myself exhibiting in the US as well as other countries around the world. Teaching, and growing with my career.


You mentioned in an article that after your father’s death you have come to understand so much more about the complications of being an artist. What specifically is the nature of doing art for yourself vs doing it for the public?

Art for yourself comes from the soul, from what is in you. Art for the public, as in commercial art is what is asked for or demanded by someone else.


What was the best advice you have received? (or a bit of advice for the reader)

Perseverance and discipline (the same advice my father gave me). Don’t let a negative criticism get you down. Keep investigating and looking for inspiration. Letting your muse flow, even if its the middle of the night! If you want your art to make you money, you have tot turn it into a business, and you get to be the CEO!