Accent On: Sarah Dudek

Our Accent® Opaque Portfolio Exchange may have taken an unexpected turn, but we’re along for the ride, and we hope you are, too!

First up in our series of conversations with the participating exchange artists: Sarah Dudek, an artist based in Somerville, Massachusetts who designs and screen prints art and home decor with a conceptual focus on food. The art that Sarah created for the Accent® Opaque Portfolio Exchange features two of our favorite things: a giant pie in the middle of an orchard. We asked her about that, along with what she’s doing to nurture her creativity during these wild times. 

Waffle and Pizza by Sarah Dudek

All the art created for the Accent Opaque Portfolio Exchange addresses the central theme of “sustainability.” How did you approach this theme?

Being an artist that works mainly in the realms of food and nourishment, I approached the theme with an eye in that direction. Food sustains us, but we often produce it with methods that do not sustain the planet. While we absolutely must address sustainability at the highest levels, we can also approach it in something as simple as pie. 

No one NEEDS to eat pie, but it sure does make life a whole lot more pleasant. And it can also be great for the planet. Choose local fruit in season. Look for varieties whose trees do the most good for honeybee colonies. Get your flour from mills that don’t use bleach. Use Grandma’s recipe. Share a slice with a friend.  

HOW Sarah D.

This project was already underway when our world was changed by a global pandemic. How has living through this affected your artistic process?

My print shop was deemed inessential and shut down. The classes I teach were all cancelled. The events where I sell the majority of my work were eliminated. My entire business model was derailed.

So, I spent a week doing nothing but refreshing newsfeeds and adjusting to the new reality. I went for a lot of runs. I baked things. But my job is to make stuff. And I really needed to keep working.

Food became VERY important during quarantine. It was not just nourishment. It was memory and entertainment and activity. I mean, for a while, the grocery store was the only place we were allowed to go. I began painting a series of quarantine food portraits. Black enamel on recycled cardboard. One per day. It was just something pleasant to do while I wrestled with the bigger challenges of pivoting the business. 

Today is day 54. We will get information about reopening Massachusetts this afternoon. So maybe we’re about to pivot again. 

Do you view the work you created for the Portfolio Exchange differently today than you did when you created it? If so, how?

Not really. Food IS fundamental. It plays a key role in our memories and our relationships. And if we can make great decisions in the way we source and produce our food, the planet will be in better shape for longer.

Bananas Sarah D.

Where are you turning for inspiration during this time? 

I’m really enjoying seeing what all my artist/designer friends are working on. Everyone is taking risks and creating rad stuff. 

I’m listening to a ton of music. 

I’m watching episodes of 1970s-era Columbo.

Now more than ever, there’s a focus on supporting the ​local businesses that make our communities great. What’s one from your own community that you think everyone should know about? 

Here in Somerville, MA there is a little shop (163 square feet) called Tiny Turns Paperie. They have curated an amazing selection of cards and prints and stickers and things. And since we are sending more snail mail these days (We are, aren’t we?) y’all should totally check them out.  

The Accent community is made up of artists, designers and printers. If you could send this group one message right now, what would it be? 

I guess I’d say that there is no right way to get through this. Find something that sustains you. Do it enough that you feel good when you wake up in the morning. Cut yourself some slack.

Thanks to Sarah Dudek for (virtually!) sitting down with us. You can see more of her work on Instagram (@sarah_dudek)  and can purchase her prints at sarahdudek.com.