The Philippine Star
STORMS A-BREWING IN HER EYES
dark expressive eyes and sadness without a name. She draws a little girl with bangs who lives inside a star that she has sewn together. She has an alien for a friend. Now, the young woman holds exhibitions in galleries, plays gigs at SaGuijo and B-Side, earns a living as a tattoo artist, her image appearing on billboards in our unlovely metropolis, but once upon a time Sarah Gaugler was that little girl.
When Sarah shares her sad, sad childhood youÕd think it is too Tim Burton-like to be true. (Cast Helena Bonham-Carter as someone in the ßick, ask Danny Elfman to write the musical score, call Johnny.) But you know why it is better than a fairy tale? Because itÕs all too real.
ÒMy mom, when she was alive, used to nourish me with art,Ó Sarah recalls. ÒShe bought me sketch pads and art materials. I knew how to draw Ñ even before I learned how to write words.Ó
Sarah drew on her Barbie dolls as if applying makeup. ÒI have a box of scary Barbies Ñ gupit- gupit Ôyung buhok at sira-sira yung mukha ( laughs). Ó She drew elevator buttons on the side of the bunk bed she shared with her brother. Before she went to sleep, she pressed on the button so that she would dream she was either a mermaid or a girl who ßies. She even drew on the inside panels of her cabinet, armed with a ßashlight.
Sarah Gaugler hasnÕt stopped drawing since.
She presents her latest works in her second solo exhibition titled ÒCondemnant Quod Non Intellegunt, Ó which opens tomorrow, 6 p.m., at The Crucible Gallery, fourth ßoor, SM Megamall A, Mandaluyong City. The title of the exhibition translated from Latin means: ÒThey condemn what they do not understand.Ó
Featured are the artistÕs interpretations of Christian iconography. She explains, ÒIn spite of its complexity and the manner it has transferred itself into human interpretation, it still succeeds in its original intent to orate the belief that humans were created out of the love of God, and that our purpose is to love one another.Ó
She adds, ÒReligious icons have been the medium by which humans connect with God and the concept of holiness. Though these icons have encountered opposition in many forms, like iconoclasm, they have still managed to thrive in modern times. Some are so quick to pass judgment and vandalize these symbols and images without compassion or understanding. I feel that these images should not be abandoned, but celebrated.Ó
Religious imagery in old houses or old churches, Sarah says, can be appreciated for their sheer beauty alone without the centuries of religious or cultural baggage that comes with it. Ò(These are) beautiful images that have lasted through the ages.Ó
Sarah recalls how she started as a tattoo artist. ÒBefore, konti pa lang Ôyung female tattoo artists. Unlike now na everyone is a tattoo artist Ñ buy a machine and youÕre a tattoo artist. Self-taught lang ako, so ang hirap noon. Ó
It all began when Paolo Peralta (her guitarist-boyfriend and SarahÕs co-conspirator in Turbo Goth) told her he wanted to have SarahÕs drawings tattooed on his body, and her friends encouraged her to try her hand at tattooing. ÒThat was the epiphany. When I did my Þrst tattoo, I was sweating and was really nervous, but when I made my Þrst line I realized that was what I wanted to do (for the rest of my life).Ó
Sarah has 15 tats herself. Four of them are the most meaningful: PaoloÕs name (her Þrst tattoo, Sarah remembers the pain); a tattoo that represents her mom; a tattoo of a bird on her ribcage (a symbol of her brother); and a Latin line Ñ Fiat
voluntas tua Ñ that means ÒThy will be doneÓ on her wrist. A sign of religiosity, perhaps?
She says she used to draw monsters when she was younger. Her colors were shades of deep blues and grays Ñ Òdark and lonelyÓ colors. Now her palette is much, much brighter. Her images, more positive.
ÒI want to inspire people,Ó she says. Ò(I want to tell kids that) if kaya nila gumawa ng bilog, kaya na nila mag- drawing.Ó
Does she ever want to revisit the black fairy-tale period of her life in a painting or an exhibition?
ÒOne day I will do it,Ó Sarah Gaugler admits. ÒThat was what made me Ñ me. Ó
Does she have a message for that sad little girl with bangs inside a self-sewn star?
ÒMy advice to that little girl who lost her parents is this,Ó concludes Sara, quoting Dr. Seuss. ÔYou have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. YouÕre on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the (one) whoÕll decide where to go.ÕÓ And by Jove, little girl, you can draw.