Sarah Mihara Creagen’s large-scale drawings have described her and her younger sister’s shared experiences of navigating Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Currently exploring histories of sex, illness and healing practices found within the field of botany, Creagen uses humour as a form of resistance and Queer resiliency to create work that speaks to her experience with Crohn’s Disease and chronic illness.
One particular plant that appears often within Creagen’s work is the resurrection (poikilohydric) plant which can withstand drought for months by drifting into a dormant state. She uses this quality of shifting in and out of lifelessness to speak to themes of self-care, isolation, and renewal. Creagen has studied hands-on gardening practices, including plant grafting, which appears within her imagery of territorial pissing; using that liquid to keep the spliced-together plant moist (a grafting requirement).
During a May 2021 Remote Research Residency supported by Access Gallery and Arts Assembly, Creagen was given support to start researching a body of work exploring early medicinal histories of both plants and leeches. Leeches, used in a variety of medical treatments for “deviant” sexual behaviour, intestinal inflammation (a major symptom of Crohn’s Disease), and heartbreak, have been a source of recent inspiration for Creagen within her work.
With support of this residency, Sarah also developed and presented a virtual public performative lecture called “PLANT GRAFTING, ASEXUAL PROPAGATION, SCI-FI, AND OUR BODIES” in 2021. Following a hands-on plant grafting demonstration, she performed a live “plant surgery” combining a lemon and lime tree. This presentation also included a visual presentation exploring plants in speculative fiction and science fiction, and shared personal experiences of chronic illness and experiences within the medical system.
Sarah is currently working on a public bioremediation garden with collaborators and the support of a Hamilton Placemaking grant for 2022/2023.
Sarah Mihara Creagen is a white passing mixed-race Japanese Canadian Queer artist. Born in Nova Scotia and currently based in Toronto, she received her MFA in 2018 from Hunter College, City University of New York, and was a 2018/2019 QUEER|ART Mentorship Fellow. She has had solo exhibitions at Katharine Mulherin’s NO FOUNDATION gallery (Toronto), Articule Gallery (Montreal), and SPRING/BREAK Art Show and Hercules Studios Gallery in New York City. Her work has been featured in The NY Times “What to See in New York Art Galleries Right Now”, Hyperallergic, and Visual Arts News. She is grateful to be a recent recipient of a 2020 Visual Artist Creation Project grant from the Ontario Art Council, as well as a 2022 Concept to Realization Grant recipient from The Canada Council for the Arts towards her solo exhibition with the Khyber Centre for the Arts.