Sarah Perkins is considered among the leading figures in the contemporary enameling field. Her hollowware forms, decorated with rich enamel color and alluring surface detail, reflect her dual interest in metal work and fine enameling. Her pieces are at once superbly crafted and richly evocative. Perkins creates vessels – cups, bowls, tea pots, vases and containers – which, while they explore the concepts of use, and ritual, defy their functional foundations to rise to the level of intimately-scaled abstract sculpture.
Regarding the balance of metal and enamel in her work, Perkins has said: “As a maker of hollowware, I use properties of the metal: the plasticity, the permanence and the dimensionality. As an enameler, I use properties of the glass: the preciousness, the texture and the color. In my work these properties function together to make a whole, with the two materials complementing and completing each other.”
On the subject of vessels, both open and closed forms, she has stated: “My current work is primarily bowls and ceremonial vessels because I am interested in the social implications and uses of these forms. Subtle differences in shape affect the meaning of a piece dramatically: an open form is generous and a tighter one is more austere and self-sufficient.”
Concerning the importance of the visible presence of the artist’s hand, Perkins has said: “In a world of laser cutters and CAD CAM, I am insistent on the value of the hand. Bowls are slightly asymmetrical, piercings have obvious drill holes and the enamel generally has a non-glossy surface. All these things contribute to the warmth and enticement of the pieces.”
Born in Ohio, Sarah Perkins received her bachelor of arts degree in 1979 from San Diego State University where she studied jewelry with Arline Fisch and smithing with Helen Shirk. She continued her studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she was awarded her master of fine arts degree in 1992. At SIU Carbondale she studied with Richard Mawdsley and Brent Kington. Of her early training Perkins has said: “I consider myself very fortunate to have had four such talented and dedicated teachers.”