Sabin Aell: “For me it is more interesting what I am becoming than where I was born”
Two exceptional women introduced me to Sabin Aell: Bambi Lee Savage, a wonderful Nashville musician who lived in Berlin during the eighties recommended Sabin when I was looking for a gallery in Denver, and Jill Mustoffa, a Denver Punk music icon and prolific photographer, known to have driven Crime & The City Solution through the US in the eighties with a yellow school bus, recommended Sabin when I was looking for a venue to do a reading of my book.
Women recommending each other is not necessarily a given and it speaks a lot of Sabin’s character that these two very different ladies spoke of her so highly. When I finally met her I understood their enthusiasm. The best way to describe Sabin is that she makes dreams come true.
Originally born in Austria she moved to Denver in 2006 and opened in 2008 Hinterland, an art space in an abandoned warehouse which she spent renovating with her husband Randy Rushton for years until they had turned it into a beautifully designed art piece. During the renovation she exhibited artists, hosted events and concerts besides working on her own art in one of her studios. 2012 HINTERLAND was awarded with the Mastermind Award by Westword, which is a grant given yearly to five artists or organizations that change the cultural landscape of Denver.
Sabin is an interdisciplinary artist working in so many fields that it is difficult to keep up with her: She paints, does murals, photography, interior design, jewelry, and costumes and continues to create new spaces to work within besides educating herself in qigong healing and meditation.
When Denver’s real estates and rents started sky rocketing she gave up Hinterland and bought a piece of land on the outskirts of Denver together with Randy, which they are single handedly building into an art center ever since. The last time I visited them in 2018 they had just finished building a house, had adopted yet another dog and were starting on the walls of the huge gallery and work space they have next on their list.
Sabin is a tiny, slender woman that has no problem breaking down walls, building trenches or driving a truck to pick up some important metal appliances. Simultaneously she will make you tea, speak about herbal remedies and show you some of her jewelry or pictures of her newest collages which are being exhibited somewhere in the world. I love being around her because she radiates energy and joy, and always reminds me that nothing is impossible.
Danielle De Picciotto: You are a creator of your own universe and never wait for anybody else to fulfill your dreams. Have you always been like this or was it a development?
Sabin Aell: What we think and vibrate is what enfolds for us. If you know that, you can have a lot of fun and create consciously instead of randomly. Certainly it is a development. Like with anything else in life I am getting better with practice. There are endless challenges daily that are pushing me constantly to expand and become more refined and clearer.
What is your motivation in life?
What inspires and sparks me is to see the beauty of how events, people and things are intricately interwoven and connected – knowing that small things are equally significant as huge events. Theories like the Butterfly Effect make real sense. In chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. Another example is the theory of the Morphic Fields, or Fields of the Mind. They refer to the connection of social groups to members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance. It provides an explanation for telepathy.
You are an artist and curator but also have trained in healing, are building your own art space and have lately started making jewelry. Are any of these pastimes your most important?
I actually started to do jewelry when I was 20. I worked as a goldsmith for quite some time when I lived in Vienna. I picked up jewelry design again probably about 10 years ago.
What is most important for me is what I am doing in the moment. As life is like a wave, the focus ebbs and flows from one to the other.
As a curator what do you look for and does it differ from what you look for as an artist?
I don’t think there is a separation. It entirely reflects upon my sense of feeling a compelling tension within the artwork, whether it is my own or someone else’s. It is the “IT” factor for me. If I sense it, it is a rush and totally amazing.
Do you feel as an expat? How do you identify?
With Colorado I found the environment that mirrors my inner atmosphere and landscape. I connected with people I was looking for. It is the perfect match. I feel totally at home here.
How do I identify? For me it is more interesting what I am becoming than where I was born or where and what I have been. I think of myself as diverse and fluid. My mind is a stream of energy, collecting new particles and leaving others behind. I am a composite – losing, gaining –, I guess I am a surfer, riding “the wave”, always on the look out for the next magnificent one.
How do you keep up your spirits inspire of the incredible workload you seem to manage on a daily basis?
Qi Gong & meditation, also having a garden and a zoo at home is tremendously helpful.
What are you currently working on?
I am just starting to work on the stage- and costume design for “BUTTERFLY – Heart of a Diva” a cirque opera by M.O.T.H., which will perform next year at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and travel form there. Another project is an artistic desk front for a reception area for a company, which I am just finishing.
What are your future plans?
I love feeling spacious and free. Whatever feeds into that I will pursue. One definite project with my husband Randy is to build out our new property and shape a space where intangible creative minds can mingle and find expression.
Do politics influence your life?
I do not focus on politics. There are so many brilliant minds in this world. I trust that they will find solutions for whatever matters. It blows my mind every day to see what people are able to accomplish.
What would you give as advice to young artists?
I don’t know if I can give any advice. I prefer saying don’t take any advice … do whatever feels irresistible to you. Be strangely beautiful, be different. Be courageous and do whatever you want – you are the artist. Invent yourself new everyday. Be glamorous or not, flap your wings and take off – enjoy the countless shades of your experience. Accept and celebrate the weirdness and unusualness of your unique self.