Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sarah Oppenheimer's Rome Prize

Sarah, at right, about to rip a giant hole in the floor for an installation.

This post, especially, conjures for me the title of this blog, New York Lost and Found, because Sarah Oppenheimer is a dear old friend from Santa Fe (we met in 9th grade) who I'd lost, then found in New York in my early 20s, then lost again, and recently, have found again. This latest reunion was bittersweet; we realized we've lived a few blocks away from one another in downtown Manhattan for a bunch of years (even though I like to think of my neighborhood as a little village where I recognize everyone, I must concede that this near-miss reminds me how vast NYC really is).

Back when we were 13 or so, Sarah donned white-girl dreads and listened to a lot of reggae. We were on the Junior Varsity volleyball team together, and she had a mean serve. I sucked, and got the "Most Improved Player" plaque, but I'm over it. With our friend Corinna, we made an inseparable tangle of creative and inquisitive angst. In my memory, we were an unusually uncomplicated threesome who basically just loved listening to Lou Reed and taking epic walks. Our favorite room at Santa Fe Prep, our small liberal arts high school, was the outbuilding that housed our beloved ceramics classes.

Those hours whiled away firing raku pots outside of the John Gaw Meem studio had a lasting impact: Sarah has gone on to have an important career painting, sculpting, and teaching in the art world. She's been teaching at Yale these last last few years, has installation credits that wrap around the world, and has just won the 2010 Rome Prize Fellowship. This will take her to one of my favorite places in Rome, Janiculum Hill in the Trastevere neighborhood, where she'll be able to get some good work done in between epic walks viewing Bernini-laden bridges. I shout from the rooftops beaming with pride, "I knew Sarah when!"

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