Sarah Wormhoudt
  • Pella
  • interviewed 8-28-1998
  • painting, drawing, printmaking

about the artist

Sarah Wormhoudt was born in Pella, Iowa, in 1914. As she was growing up in Pella, her father worked in the family furniture business, and her mother was at home with her and her two brothers, one older and one younger. She studied at several art schools, including the Minneapolis School of Art, Ozenfant School of Fine Arts (New York City), University of Minnesota (B.A., 1954, Art History), and University of Iowa (M.F.A., 1956). She taught at several schools and art centers after that, and studied abroad various times. An independent-minded, single woman all her life, she had moved back to Pella at the time of the interview in 1998. Some years later, her brother reported to me that she had become ill.



artwork | audio | statement


Oregon Beach © 1968 Sarah Wormhoudt | All Rights Reserved

Lovers Fighting © 1969 Sarah Wormhoudt | All Rights Reserved

Nude © 1976 Sarah Wormhoudt | All Rights Reserved

Bird on Nest © 1979 Sarah Wormhoudt | All Rights Reserved

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artist statement

I am not a representational artist in the usual sense of that term. Although I generally retain a recognizable sense of the object or landscape, I do abstract, or "draw out" of the original natural source, and myself as well, to express my idea or mood. At any rate, I could not work in any other way at this stage of my life as a creative artist.


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Early art interest

I did love to draw pictures and stuff at school, and I guess the teacher noticed that a little because I always got on the board. But it was after I got into high school that I became very interested in it. And that didn't stop.

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I have nothing against marriage. I resisted that. I mean, under the circumstances I didn't think it was going to be all that much better for me. I guess I was a little bit independent-minded about it. But it was close sometimes. And if somebody comes along yet, I think I might!

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Writing & art

I have actually two main interests now, and that's been that way for the last four or five years, in that I like to write as much as I do to draw and paint. I like both poetry and prose. I don't think it divides me up that much, although it does take time away from one when you're doing the other. At the moment I'm mostly drawing, but I use pastels quite a bit, because they're simple, easy to handle.

The older I get, the quicker I can work things out. That's only natural, I think, because you've been doing that for some time. Especially with this small sheet of paper, which is kind of a makeshift, of course, but I like it small because then you don't have to strain to get a good big effect on it. And I like to work kind of fast. Always I think the first thing that comes into your mind is so nice and fresh and spontaneous—it doesn't always work, but to put that down right away is a big help, I think.

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I love to do things in a creative way, so to speak. The nicest feeling I think of all is when you're doing something creatively and it actually comes out so that it works, and that other people might like it.

I don't like to tie myself to one way of doing something. Some people who paint and draw say, "Well, I absolutely must do it this way." Well, I can say that for awhile, but I won't stick to it, because I think you should look farther and do something different—not because it's different, because it's you. Nobody is a one-stamp type of person.

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The spiritual part

I like to have a free and open kind of mind, so that you have a generous approach to what you're looking at. Plus, I think that anybody who tries to do any artwork, the best are those who put something of the spiritual part of their thinking into it. And I don't mean necessarily it has to be religious sort of art, which is fine in its own right, but that you can see something has been thought of and that you have made a psychological impression of that. And I think a lot of stuff you see nowadays doesn't have that feeling in it, which is a shame because it used to be, it could be, and it was.

There are still some painters that do nothing but sort of copycat what they see—the landscape, too. That's all right as far as it goes, but it doesn't really express much of what the human people can experience in nature. That's something I think that's very important.

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Do it!

I think that anybody who's at all in the slightest way interested in trying to work at some art some time, they should do it, because it can be very beneficial. I don't mean just getting out and copying things, you know. But what I mean is to really develop psychologically with whatever you're doing.

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