Sarah Mihara Creagen’s practice consists of research into intersecting histories of the medical system and botany, and considers these topics through personal experiences of queerness, chronic illness and disability while living with Crohn’s Disease. Sarah’s work explores personal experiences within the medical system, including: surgery, becoming immunocompromised, fluctuating experiences of health and recovery, and managing relationships to long term biologic medication infusions.
One particular plant that appears often within Sarah’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. Sarah 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, Sarah 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.
Currently, Sarah is working towards an upcoming solo show in Spring 2023 with Forest City Gallery in London, Ontario. She is also currently collaborating with Zoe Hayes (a queer gardener, librarian and herbalist) and the city of Hamilton to create an active public bioremediation garden project, starting in late 2022 and operating through 2023.
Sarah Mihara Creagen is a white passing mixed-race Japanese Canadian Queer artist born in Nova Scotia and currently living in Toronto. She received her MFA in 2018 from Hunter College in New York CIty, and was a 2018/2019 Queer|Art Mentorship Fellow. She has had solo exhibitions at Katharine Mulherin’s NO FOUNDATION gallery (Toronto), SPRING/BREAK Art Show and Hercules Studios Gallery in New York City, as well as Articule Gallery (Montreal) and The Khyber Centre for the arts (Halifax).
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 recipient of multiple Ontario Art Council grants, including a recent 2022/2023 Visual Artist Creation Project Grant as well as a 2022 Concept to Realization Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts in support of her recent solo exhibition with the Khyber Centre for the Arts titled “Pain?” What is that? “Pleasure?” What is that?