Sarah Muehlbauer is an artist at the intersection of performance, art, and social practice. Based in Philadelphia, she writes and produces independently under the company name Lion or Fox. Independent projects weave in social themes of disability, obstacle and recovery, the changing environment, sovereignty, and archetypal symbols.
Muehlbauer collaborates locally, nationally, and internationally with artists from diverse backgrounds. Since 2008 when Sarah was named the National Emerging Young Artist by VSA Arts, she has seamed together material process and ephemeral artifacts that deal with the human body’s strength and vulnerability through multidisciplinary and often collaborative work.
Sarah is the resident artist at Grumblethorpe historic farm and property for 2018.
On how my identity and experience informs the work that I do, and why I create hybrid storytelling projects that bridge personal and transpersonal experiences (re: Things That Survived The Winter).
As far as my identity goes, I have tried to ask myself: Who would I be if my life wasn’t steered by fluctuating symptoms, terrifying drugs, panels of doctors, and the inevitability of more internal surgery? If every day were not led with the question, How are my symptoms, and what must I give up to cater to them? Who would I be without the many jobs and relationships I’ve lost due to tough times and misunderstanding? If I hadn’t lived for years on floors and couches, chasing work wherever it was available in the time between doctor’s visits? Do I recognize myself without the anxiety and depression, the suicidal thoughts I’ve fought from continuous escalating stressors? Who would I be without the intimate knowledge of where social systems fail? Where would I be without the family I forged along the way? These questions are of course unanswerable after 18 years of chronic illness. The reason I created such a structure for a show, which is based on personal experience, but broadened to incorporate the lives of other individuals, is to show the common threads.
Life is a continual process of loss and renewal, and we can recognize our common humanity through our storytelling. Social change may not occur quickly where our institutions fail, but by focusing on the personal, in relationship, we can build more grounded and practical solutions.