Sara Garden Armstrong
Sara is an artist in New York. She has recently come home to Birmingham, Al. in order to create and install a large commissioned sculpture for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I treasure her friendship and have enjoyed documenting much of her work for 36 years (we were both 15 yrs. old when we met).
Because of her experience and the energy she produces, I knew early on that she would be someone I wanted to talk with about Hope. So we chatted, I took photos and then I put the audio file aside. I didn’t feel that I knew what I was doing with the project at the time. But now, as she has come home to work on the MS commission, it is good timing to pick up where we left it earlier.
At the beginning of our first talk I asked her the question I have stopped asking people…“On a Hope scale of 1 to 10, where are you?”. She says 7.5, but follows that with, “But don’t forget that as a person gets older, there’s another perspective. I’ll have a hard time not being hopeful about the next day, and I am excited to wake up every morning. I love getting up.” I ask her what she thinks about when she first wakes up. “Oh, I’ve got another day. I mean, I think of all the stuff I could do today.” She says this with the enthusiasm of a teenager. After conversation about the difference between just appearing positive and what Hope might be, she says, “Hope is not Happy, but it is an emotion, and it is about possibilities. You think there is something else ahead and that you are going to get there, wherever that may be”.
In our second discussion we talk about how Faith and Hope always seem to come up in the same conversation. For Sara, celebration is a part of how she explains the relationship of Hope to Faith. She says, “Life is a celebration. I am not afraid, and my glass is always half full”. I ask what kind of an effect do you think you have on people, and she says “I bring them energy”.
I think Sara’s success comes from her lack of fear. She has the normal fears we all experience, but she has faith that the outcome of her work will always surprise her by being better than her original vision. I believe this glass half full attitude, combined with her work ethic and dogged determination, is her brand of Hope. Like my friend Jack McKay from an earlier Blog post, you can see the Hope, whatever that is, in her face.