Monday, 15 April 2013 08:29

Oyen woman turning passion for art into a career

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Sara Girletz, who grew up in Oyen, likes to take photographs and then use them in her artwork. Sara Girletz, who grew up in Oyen, likes to take photographs and then use them in her artwork. Photo by Randy Girletz

Oyen’s Sara Girletz is working hard to turn her passion for art into her sole career. Girletz, whose parents are Randy and Verla, grew up in Oyen graduating from the high school in 2007.


On her 18th birthday, the now 23-year-old, moved into residence at Red Deer College and started in the visual arts program. She transferred to Calgary’s Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) two years later, and after an additional two years of study earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in painting in 2011.
Now Girletz is honing her craft and mingling with people in the art world in an attempt to turn her love for art into a career.
“Originally I had planned to attend ACAD right out of high school,” explains Girletz. She toured both it and Red Deer College with her parents and admits she was a little frightened to head into the art school at such a young age.
“Red Deer was meant to be for a year and there was no entrance portfolio (required),” says Girletz. “I ended up loving Red Deer.”
She made some wonderful friends and had great instructors so she stayed for the two-year program.
“It’s a very technical school. I was required to take Old Master types of studio classes.”
Those classes included painting, drawing and ceramics giving Girletz a solid foundation in many art mediums.
“It was very technical, but you have to know how to (play) by the rules in order to break the rules.”
She had always enjoyed crafts as a child, especially since she had no siblings and her mother was always finding unique ways to keep her busy. Then in high school she took an interest in art and was fortunate to have some teachers willing to mentor her. Attending Red Deer was a chance to expand on the basics she had learned in Oyen.
Now, with four years of training under her belt, Girletz considers herself a multi-disciplinary artist. She likes to work with photography, but doesn’t consider herself a photographer. Instead she mixes media incorporating photos with paints, collage and found objects.
Like any business just starting out, Girletz requires a side job, spending 40 hours a week to pay the bills, but working on the side to create a name for herself in the art world.
“I’m only two years out of school. I do have artist fees, but it’s not enough to make a living.”
She’s finding out just how much work it takes to make a living through her art.
“I’m super focused ... I want to do it. I’m hoping that passion converts to financial backing.”
Girletz spends her “spare” time working on pieces, but moreso trying to find spaces to show her work as well as applying for artist residencies. She was told in art school the two reasons many people fail, is because they don’t have facilities to work in or a network of people immersed in art.
“So ever since I’ve been out of school, I’ve focused on having a facility and developing my body of work. Now I’m transitioning. I’m trying to put out some work to sell.
“You’re not just making art, you’re going out and finding opportunities. To actually (create) the art is such a luxury.”
One big achievement was securing an artist residency early last year at the Burren College of Art located in Newtown Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland. It was Girletz’s first time seeing Europe after having earned her art degree. She had a whole different appreciation of the architecture and landscape she was able to enjoy.
She’s currently involved in a residency with the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation which includes studio space, some funding and an exhibition.
Girletz knows eventually she wants to attend grad school for two years to earn her Masters in Fine Arts, but wants to take a few years off first.
“I really want to develop my work and gain a strong network (around me),” she adds.
She already has a strong network of friends and family behind her. Girletz visits her parents in Oyen as often as she can and calls up old friends at the same time keeping in touch with many from high school.
“I love Calgary, but I grew up in a small town. I totally need to get my fix,” she says.  “I’m still close with the people I grew up with and going on a drive with my dad is so fun and relaxing.”
No matter how successful Girletz is in the art world, she doesn’t regret the hard work ahead or the path she’s chosen.
“Even in 10 years, if I never made another painting, I love how I see things. I see things in a totally different way,” says Girletz, about the appreciation she gained through her art training.
She adds the visual stimulus just from seeing a vast landscape is amazing and it can become a talking piece between people.
“Whether people like art or not, it always (seems) to stimulate a conversation.”
To view some of Sara Girletz’s work visit her website at: www.saragirletz.com.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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