on the wrong side of sunshine
The first time you visit somewhere, everything about it is new. Then, as you get to know it, your first impression is something you don’t recognize anymore. Leaving my quiet suburban home in Oklahoma for the Bay Area felt like a new start, and like a betrayal; abandoning my fly-over state for one that was bigger and brighter and “better.” Many Okies have done it before, some with the same destination (although they made the journey without the luxury of an airplane, and their woes were enough to inspire The Grapes of Wrath). Growing up in conservative, Christian Oklahoma and coming into adulthood at a school that’s a train ride away from San Francisco taught me how physical spaces impress on the body. As I learned more about myself and my new home, my idyllic perception of California became more complicated. I don’t think California is the paradise I once believed it to be. I miss Oklahoma each day I’m away.
Sarah Ondak’s photo installation explores the way physical spaces embody personal memories and experiences. Their eclectic photographs of natural, suburban, and urban environments at varied viewpoints present an ambiguous mix of nostalgia and alienation. Sarah transforms their photographs into a sculptural form: a double-sided, free-standing album in which a fleeting stream of consciousness and memories unfold, like film stills, through space and time.
Sarah Ondak studied photography and sculpture at Stanford University, where they majored in Art Practice with Honors. Their artistic practice is directly informed by their childhood experiences in Oklahoma and their queer identity. Ondak aims to explore the emotional roots that attach themselves to physical spaces, they believe geographical location has cultural and social dimensions and can be just as alive as the beings that inhabit it. Ondak’s photography explores how physical spaces become embodied experiences. Their images aim to be quiet contemplations of the relationship between body and geography.