In her Waltham studio, Sarah Meyers Brent (@sarah_meyers_brent) is making garbage into art. The artist draws inspiration from everyday objects: decaying flowers, deflated footballs, and even childrens’ clothes. A mother of two young boys, Brent weaves these elements together in unexpected ways, transforming them into curious paintings, installations, and sculptures. With three art degrees, the New York native stays in a neutral color palette with little pops of pastel. The Globe chatted with Brent about environmentalism, influence, and more.
Q. In almost all of your work, flowers and floral themes show up. Why is that?
A. I’m just so drawn to the nature kind of stuff — the way it grows and decays. I also was born in the country and spent a lot of time growing up there. Some of it might be the response to being more in a city environment and wanting to have nature around me. I really pay attention to the way the forms change, and I think you can say so much through those different stages of transformation in the outside world.
Q. A lot of the materials you use are household objects. What inspired you to use those?
A. In 2008, I started gathering these materials that I liked and collecting them in my studio. I started putting leaves and dirt into my work first and expanded after that. I had boxes and boxes of old paint shavings I was saving, and I was bringing my kids’ clothes into the studio and using them as paint rags. Once they got soiled with the paint, they hardened and looked so beautiful. Eventually, the materials themselves started to give me different ideas and inspire me to be more three-dimensional. So I put them in my work.
I just love the richness of the material, which is weird because it’s trash. But to me, it’s so interesting, and it’s very dynamic. When I assemble it all together, it has this beautiful quality, but it’s also kind of gross and decaying. Recently, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m running out of stuff. So I’m collecting different things from the community. Right now, I’ve been getting a lot of broken toys from people.
Q. You started posting on Instagram around 2015. Do you think your inspiration or influence has changed at all over the past couple years?
A. I’m not the kind of artist who goes into the studio thinking “I’m going to do this” or “I’m going to do that.” I’m more intuitive in that I’m inspired by the materials and start by sketching something out. So any changes in my work just come from changes in my life. Most of the materials are from my home and from my kids. So originally I had just their clothes. Now they have more and more stuff — all these different things that end up getting broken and discarded and make their way into my studio today that didn’t before.
Q. Is there any other way you see your work changing in the future? Any other mediums you want to explore?
A. I’m very concerned about the environment and how it’s getting into my work. I’m collecting materials that would otherwise go into landfills and making sculptures out of them. I’m figuring out how to use more sustainable materials, eco-friendly ways for me to glue materials together. I’m looking at potentially how I could also make my paintings on other materials that could even be recycled perhaps.
Diti Kohli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.