I love sharing inspiring people with you all + this interview is a special one for me!
If you don’t know her personally, meet the ever lovely Sarah Racine!
Sarah is a very talented visual artist who travels the world + happens to be a very dear friend of mine. She loves Jesus, world cultures, teaching art therapy, spending time with children + laughing…lots. : )
“So me in a nutshell is I love my Lord + I love creating from that…”
Kristen: Sarah, tell people about yourself!
Sarah: I’m from Reading, Pennsylvania. I grew up in Allentown, moved back to Reading + spent most of my life there. Later I went to University of Kutztown where I studied fine arts + psychology…Other random things? I wake up in the morning craving cheese steaks…
Kristen: (laughing) I like that.
Sarah: Yeah I want real food in the morning like buffalo chicken or something like that. What else…I’m not a city person but I absolutely love New York City. I love it because of Brooklyn + Jewish delis + watching interactions happen there. And my favorite music artist is Josh Garrels…
Kristen: I love it. And I love Josh Garrels, too, which you already know (laughing)…Tell me about your journey with the arts…
Sarah: So when I was little I found I could never really put my pencil down, + that kinda was an issue growing up (laughs). It got in trouble growing up…in church…in school…because I take in information by doodling.
Since I was little art was always a big part of me, in how I express myself to the world + how I took in the world…+ I was always absolutely fascinated by other cultures. Even as a kid, National Geographic magazines were always my go-to to read. All of that kind of birthed into who I am now…which is someone who is captured by the expression of people around the world.
My art was always different or the reason why I created it was very unique…So it’s definitely expressive of my passion + my God + how I see people.
(Below are some of Sarah Racine’s photographs! )
(See more of her work here!)
Kristen: Tell me more about what drives you to do what you’re doing right now.
Sarah: I guess what drives is the fact that there are so many untold stories out there + I love being able to help tell them. Using the power of film to do that has become a passion of mine.
For example I helped make a video for the street kids in Bangledesh I was getting to know because they had stories that no one was really listening to. My friend + I wanted to tell the world what their lives were about.
(See a video Sarah filmed for the Neema Project in Kenya here!)
So I think what drives me is the fact there’s a story within each of us + I want to be able to capture it + display it. My faith in the Lord drives me to see people the way that He does.
Kristen: You’ve invested in your art for a while now; you’ve done a lot with it. How do you navigate how to specifically use your gifts when there are so many opportunities out there?
Sarah: (pause) Well, I would say there’s a lot of…trouble shooting. (laughs) Navigating towards where I am now has been quite a challenge because I come from a family where having a good income is what seems to matter the most in life. And I don’t know what it was about me growing up but I have completely strayed away from that. I don’t know if it’s because I saw the turmoil in it or just didn’t understand the purpose behind it. But I would say navigating that balance has been a challenge to figure out how to bring in an income but also going after my passions + desires.
And going after my passions + desires have definitely won out in that fight. Navigating through that been a step-by-step process. There have been seasons where it has been a bit easier + seasons where its been really, really hard. There have been times I’ve had to put less emphasis on art for financial reasons. But having people to encourage me in my gifts has gotten me where I am.
It hasn’t been an easy road + I’m still on it. But the navigating part of it, it would be really hard if I didn’t have people’s support.
I have the greatest joy + come most to life overseas with a camera in my hand or drawing. It’s the hardest, but it produces the most joy.
Kristen: How do inspirational people affect your life?
Sarah: I can remember one specific professor I had who focused a lot on charcoal portraits + he really inspired me to work on my own portraits…having the technical skills that went along with my own vision of I wanted to display. So he always played a huge role.
(Work by Sarah Racine.)
I love it when artists have a mentor because I think there’s something beautiful in having someone who can teach or mold or inspire you. You end up creating your work to look your own way. But I think there’s something beautiful in community inspiring one another rather than creating jealousy. I think we’re meant to work with one another + be inspired from one another. So I would say that has a big role in what I do.
Even now, having a community of artists is important to me. We all complement each other.
Kristen: And on the flipside, what obstacles have held you back from creating?
Sarah: Finances are always an issue for a lot of artists. And a lot of times it can just be yourself…a lack of confidence in yourself in what you’re creating. Or wondering if it’s as good as the next person’s work…With photography, as long as you have a nice camera, you can put it on an ‘auto’ setting + you can be a photographer. So the sense that art is becoming less of a trade or something to learn makes it seem as if what you do is nothing unique.
Kristen: I think when people hear that from you, they’re going to be a bit surprised because the people who know you + your work have a category for you in their mind that holds you in a very high esteem…technically + also because your heart is in what you create. So I think that’s going to be really powerful for people to hear that you deal with that, too.
Sarah: Yeah. Right now I’m single, 29, + I have to produce an income that’s sustainable. And with that, I think it can be really hard for an artist because that gift can either be taken advantage of or it’s not necessarily valued as high as someone who has a corporate job, so it’s definitely a real challenge.
Staying focused on why I am creating helps me.
Kristen: What would you say to people who have a vision for something + feel stuck? What would you tell them to help them get out of their funk?
Sarah: Ohh, good question. So a word to people who are in funks?
Kristen: Yeah, or they never really got out of their funks… (laughs) A continual funk…
Sarah: (laughing) I think there’s something beautiful that can be produced that come out of being ‘stuck’ or in a ‘funk’, as long as you have the strength + courage to push through it. It’s easy to speak negative thoughts to yourself + I think the Lord has a unique story in each of us that He’s wanting to tell the world about. So I would say that a simple step is just to continue in it. You have to physically do something. So if you’re feeling in a funk with photography, why not continue to pick up your camera + go out + try to push through that? With art, it’s the same way. Each season says something unique.
Even with my art, there was a season of depression that I dealt with + I value what I made in that time a lot. Because in my eyes I was feeling stuck + my art seemed to reflect that, but my close friend Amy would say otherwise.
I would say to those people, continue pushing forward. Because most artists deal with that; most deal with feeling stuck + push through it.
Kristen: And what about people who don’t even know where to start, they may just have a vague idea of something they might want to pursue someday…what would you say to them?
Sarah: I mean, all good ideas start out with vagueness, don’t they?
Kristen: (laughing) True!
Sarah: It’s an IDEA. So whether you want to make it happen or not is your call.
Take my friend Lindsay, she doesn’t have an artistic bone in her. But a few months, she wanted to start writing down simple truths to herself. In the beginning she was pretty discouraged by that whole comparison thing. I told her to just do it in her journal + she’s been doing it…It’s messy + in her mind it hasn’t been beautiful. But I can start seeing an improvement already within a few weeks. There’s tightness in her hand in her writing. She’s adding more illustration, just after a few weeks.
The biggest factor with creativity is having encouraging peers around you! If you don’t have good community around you…that’s hard. It’s not a competition; that’s the thing. And I don’t think we’d have any of the great artists that we do today if people didn’t try.
Kristen: And how do you choose how to use your gifts right now? The fact that you’re going back to New Zealand + beyond very soon when there are a million things you could do?
Sarah: For me, I always prayed for open or closed doors. And I’m also very logical + very organized too, so I look at pluses + minus. And I know what I’m good at + what I don’t excel in helps me make decisions…
Kristen: So knowing yourself is very important…
Sarah: Knowing yourself is the biggest way in how you can navigate. Because you have to be confident in how you work, what you want to do + your desires.
Just taking a step out in faith. Just doing something.
Kristen: Right. Perfect. So, what practically is next for you? Tell all the people who want to hear.
Sarah: I have a heart for mission work + for the marginalized so I’m wanting to get back to the basics of that. Right now I’m getting back to the roots of what drives me, so I’m preparing to go on a seven month mission trip with YWAM + take students Nepal, India + other areas where human trafficking is an issue.
In the past when I was in Cambodia, one of the things I loved most was seeing girls find restoration + healing through the arts…I want to continue to pair those two things together, missions + art therapy. And I still want to create on my own. That will be the biggest challenge, to continue to create through photography, film or charcoal.
When I think of my dream job, it’s to work with the marginalized + to give them a space to create + help them with resources to create.
Kristen: Looking forward, what are you most excited about?
Sarah: I’m most excited to be back on the field…with the kids. They have very few possessions but they’re so joyful. So to hear their laughter again + to see them respond to art. And to see the YWAM students get excited about that, too.
Kristen: This has been wonderful. How can people follow your story?
Sarah: There are two main ways people can become involved…
Financially people can:
+ Order this tshirt (adult + kids sizes) that I designed. Proceeds go toward my trip!
This is the women’s version. Mens, youth + baby sizes also available.
To order, email: “email@example.com “
+ Write a check of support! Email: “firstname.lastname@example.org” for more info.
And with prayer, the areas I’m going to are pretty heavy. Then add on leading a group of students who have never been there + are dealing with their own stuff, prayer is always needed.
Kristen: I’m excited for you! Thank you so much Sarah!!
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” -Isaiah 55:12
Do yourself a favor + check out Sarah’s website!
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See past Spotlight:INSPIRATION interviews here!