Guiding principles from the founders
Hans-Peter Szameit and Sanna Tomac
Why SARA is
SARA exists because we are passionate about great representational art, love to create it and would like to see more of it created by others.
There is a tradition, stretching back hundreds of years, of experienced painters passing on their knowledge to aspiring apprentices and students. In fact, it would be difficult to find a past master who did not have students of one kind or another. As professional fine artists ourselves, it therefore seemed natural to become involved in the training of other aspiring artists. While pursuing our painting careers in the United States, we accepted a handful of students to work alongside us in our studio. Teaching proved to be a very rewarding experience and we were proud to see them develop and start their own careers. As our teaching methods evolved and the number of people wanting our help increased, the idea of opening a proper school began to form in our minds as a logical way to reach a wider audience and effectively share our experience and knowledge. The decision to move to Sweden, Sanna’s home country, provided us with the perfect opportunity to make our dream a reality.
Drawing upon the positive aspects of our individual experiences as students to guide us, we decided to create a unique school – one that we would have loved to attend ourselves. A school that delivers training of the highest standards and is also a close knit community of realist artists. A school where those involved feel close and supportive of each other, where everyone contributes to its success and each individual benefits from that success and growth; and where that sense of community doesn’t end upon a student’s graduation, or a staff member’s retirement, but is enduring.
We are very excited about the living, dynamic school we have created that is continually finding and developing better ways to educate its students, support the artistic growth of its teachers, and improve the broader situation for representational art and artists. Our idealistic vision has motivated us since the school’s inception and continues to do so today. We are deeply grateful to see students, teachers, staff members and people outside the school getting involved to create the wonderful place that SARA has become, and who, like us, are passionately excited about its future.
What SARA is
Studying at SARA…
SARA is especially well suited for students who like the idea of establishing long-term relationships with their school, classmates and teachers. Becoming a student of SARA is a bit like becoming part of a family. Students and faculty spend a significant amount of time together at school, so we all get to know each other quite well. Many students think of the school as a home away from home. They cook most of their meals here and enjoy hanging out after hours to sketch, socialize or watch a movie together. There is a vibrant social atmosphere, with a variety of parties held at the school throughout the year, and frequent opportunities to meet outside the school as well. Of course, it’s up to each student how socially involved they want to become, and there is never any pressure or hard feelings toward those students who choose not to participate.
Conversely, the work ethic at SARA is serious. Students are expected to be dedicated, apply themselves fully to their work and be self-motivated in their quest for learning and growth. Every SARA student is passionate about improving as an artist and realizing their full artistic potential, or they would not be here. That passion is something that can be felt within the school, and it helps inspire everyone to do better. This encouraging atmosphere is something the school is very proud of.
Finally, SARA listens to its students. We actively encourage students to give us feedback about all aspects of their educational experience and their views help us to improve their learning environment even more.
Teaching at SARA…
We believe that happy, working artists make the best art teachers. That is why we insist that all primary faculty members have a professional careers as artists outside the school. We want everyone who teaches at the school to love that part of their life – to see their teaching as another aspect of their professional careers, and not as a “second job.” Therefore, in order to give each teacher the time and flexibility to create their own work and pursue their professional careers, we have designed a limited teaching schedule for the faculty. In our opinion, there is added value to the training if students understand that their teachers are living as fine artists out there in the “real” world, exhibiting work, executing commissions, etc.
There are many reasons why a professional fine artist would be interested in teaching at SARA. Every artist was once an amateur and can remember how important and appreciated every bit of help and guidance they received was. Teaching provides an opportunity to pass along that valuable help and guidance. As well as gaining pleasure from helping aspiring students, the process of continually reflecting upon basic artistic principles through teaching is of great value for the teacher as an artist. It is also inspiring and exciting to be working in a beautiful atmosphere among passionate colleagues and students who share, to a great extent, one’s aesthetic values. Practically speaking, it’s wonderful part-time work that provides a stable and regular source of income.
From the school’s point of view, it is very important to us that our teachers are fairly compensated, and well pleased with their work environment. Moreover, we want to create opportunities for our teachers to grow as artists and to help advance their careers through workshops organized specifically for the teaching staff, museum study trips (both locally and abroad), exhibitions of faculty work, and the everyday use of the school’s facilities and models.
We want our teachers to feel that they are part of a community, that their personal thoughts and ideas matter and that they play an active and positive role in developing and improving the way the school teaches its students.
Working at SARA…
Working at SARA is an opportunity to be a part of something wonderful and we want everyone to feel that – whether working here only temporarily, such as a model, or as a permanent member of our staff.
Staff members are also part of the community of SARA and we want them to be personally invested in the larger vision of SARA, and consequently reap the rewards that the realization of that vision brings. Every person within SARA contributes to the overall atmosphere of the school, work and learning environment, and since SARA is not a large organization, each person’s impact is significant.
We also want members of our staff to understand that working toward goals that will benefit the organization will benefit them as well, and that makes for exciting work. We want them to play a direct and active role in developing and improving the school through sharing their thoughts and ideas about SARA.