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Inside the Studio: Sarah Fishbein

Sarah Fishbein, an abstract collage artist, brings a unique blend of self-taught skill, passion, and bold creativity to glass mosaics. Her journey, rooted in childhood crafts and a deep-seated love for vibrant colors and tactile textures, has blossomed into an artistic career marked by daring exploration and profound expression. In her work, Fishbein skillfully intertwines her fascination with pop art, particularly the exaggerated emotional drama of romantic comics from the 50s-70s. Her meticulous glass cutting and placement process breathes life into each piece, making her mosaics dance with light and change throughout the day. With a studio bathed in natural light and a supportive partner who pushes her to expand her horizons, Fishbein stands at the cusp of new artistic frontiers. Read on for an exclusive interview for insight into Sarah Fishbein's creative world, where each mosaic is not just an artwork but a bold statement of empowerment and emotional resonance.

Ms. Marvelous - Glass Mosaic, 41 x 28.5 x 1 in 

Where did your journey with art first begin? 

I am completely self-taught. My mother loved crafts and we would always be working on little projects such as sewing, painting, or ceramics, but I’ve not had any formal training. At some point, I found an attraction to glass and ceramics, especially those with bold colors and tactile textures. In my early twenties, I created some flowerpots and table surfaces using pieces that I broke off large ceramic tiles. I soon discovered that smaller, glass tiles were easier to manipulate and the color selections were much broader than commercial tiles. At this point in my life, it was just a hobby, as I had become more interested in pursuing a career in video production. Around four years I found my way back to my passion for glass.

SLAM! - Glass Mosaic, 18x60x1in 

How has your approach to creating art evolved over the four years you’ve been working with glass mosaics? 

Four years ago when I began this artistic journey I was figuring out the details of the complexities of the craft as well as finding my voice along the way. Through these years I have truly found my style very much departing from the traditional mosaic methods you often see. The style you see now is very characteristic of that journey. Also over the four years, I have become very confident in my voice and the ability to say and convey what I am thinking and feeling without self-doubt. Now I make what I want despite tackling subjects that may push or anger others. The journey has allowed me tremendous freedom and confidence in myself and what I create.

Wishful - Glass Mosaic, 36 x 36 x 1 in 

What inspired you to focus on romantic comics from the 50s-70s as a source of inspiration? 

I had always loved the colors and over-exaggerated imagery of POP art from artists like Warhol, Max and Lichtenstein who served as the inspiration for my first, larger mosaics. Starting first with lips and eyes, my mosaics began to transform into much larger pieces. One day, my husband showed me some old romance comic books from the 50s and 60s and I suddenly felt that I had found my look. I began to collect and study comic books of this era and found myself attracted to the over-the-top emotion and swoon-worthy material surrounding it. In production, I often had to fight for position in a male dominated industry and found myself having to fight my way in and prove myself over and over. With my art, I wanted to flip the ideas of a male dominated image and change it to the women having the power and the to be the ones making the choices. It has become important to me to share women’s struggles in a beautiful and thought-provoking way. I have found that I can create whatever is on my heart, usually around the idea of relationships, feminism, LBGTQ acceptance and more.

Sweet Slumber - Glass Mosaic, 36x36x1in 

Can you walk us through your process of conceptualizing and starting a new mosaic piece? 

I love adding type and phrases to my mosaics, to convey the emotion in the art I am making. I typically start with a comment or phrase. I bring that thought into the digital world and create a sketch. I then project this image on a backer board and create an outline on a hard “canvas” so I can begin the actual mosaic. I combine the technique of stained glass cutting with mosaic techniques to manipulate the different types of glass into the images on my canvas. My style has evolved. Through experimentation, I eventually taught myself how to cut and shape opaque glass. I enjoy creating imagery with hard, solid black lines, uniform and sparkly. By creating a solid black outline I can then fill the spaces with tiny pieces of color. I choose pieces of glass that are designed to work with the light of a room, giving my mosaics a three-dimensional quality that makes the art move and change throughout the day.

Also, I love my tools and knowing that I can use my hands to create almost anything that comes to mind. It is an honor and I truly love each process of the journey 

Passionate Blues - Glass Mosaic, 36 x 36 x 1 in 

How do you envision the role of the artist in shaping or reflecting the realities of society at large? 

Artists reflect what they feel and see around them. An artist can provoke thoughts, ideas and concepts, sometimes regarding very uncomfortable topics while illustrating their response using their medium of choice. In my work I express, in glass, what I am feeling or seeing when I feel powerless to create change with my own voice. This has allowed me to tackle issues close to my heart like feminism, abortion, LGBTQ acceptance. The goal is to open discussion and perhaps steer the viewer to think or consider alternative views on a particular subject.

Sarah Fishbein in her studio 

What is the most profound lesson you have learned about yourself through the process of creating your art? 

I’ve learned I HAVE A VOICE and that voice matters. Growing up I was often shushed and told to be quiet and not make waves around me. As I have grown in my art practice I have learned what power my voice can have. I’ve also found that my voice can speak for what others are feeling and experiencing.

Violet - Glass Mosaic, 36x36x1in 

In your creative process, are there any rituals or routines that you follow to tap into the world you depict? 

I am always creating. I keep a running list of ideas on my phone. Inspiration is everywhere. I might overhear a conversation in a restaurant or the waiter might say a phrase or line that is the perfect foundation for my next illustration. Life and relationships are my key motivators. There is an endless list of things to ponder about. I have found that I need to set aside time every day to focus on some aspect of my imagery, regardless if it is creating the initial design or simply sitting down to crack tile. I have to remain immersed in my art. I also know that walking away for a bit is just as important as creating. What is the point of my art if I am not enjoying my life as well?

Home - Glass Mosaic, 35.5x32.5x1in 

Are there any artists or people that have been most influential in your creative development? 

My husband has been a tremendous influence on me. He has been working in the arts his entire career, starting with photography and then cinematography. He is a phenomenal artist in his own right, who always pushes me, and never gives compliments lightly or placates me. He is a staunch supporter of my art. He pushed me to work bigger and bolder and pushed me to look beyond my own imagination. He believed in me so much that I could believe in myself. 

Where do you see yourself evolving as an artist, say 10 years from now?

I’d like to see my art spread to new collectors and lovers of pop art, as well as having it enjoyed by those who share my ideals of emotional peace and freedom. Ten years from now I’d like to have a larger mosaic studio where I can mentor other artists while creating my art alongside them. 

Hang Ups - Glass Mosaic, 36x36x1in 

Tell me about your studio space and its importance to you. 

We just moved and part of our decision-making was based on having a workable studio space for my mosaic art. We were fortunate to find a home with an entire bottom floor, bathed in natural light, with views of trees and mountains year-round, while still within 30 minutes of Manhattan. I feel confident that I will be using this space to produce the next generation of my art. 

Looking back at your artistic journey so far, is there a piece or moment you feel represents a turning point or a significant evolution in your craft?

This last September was the first time I had a chance to bring my work to NYC. It was an emotional turning point for me. At a show in Manhattan my work was received well and in fact, loved by many. Several of my works found new homes for people who truly resonated emotionally with my art. With that experience behind me, I have found the confidence to create more imagery than ever. I look forward to the new year and the realization of new artwork. 

The Heiress - Glass Mosaic, 40x32x1in 

Can you tell us about any shows or projects you have coming up shortly?

I’ll be a part of multiple NYC art fairs in the new year as well as a part of a few museum shows as well as art magazines, blogs and podcasts will be creating content about my work and journey. 

You can learn more about Sarah Fishbein and her work via these links:


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