Much of modern creativity advice focuses on “getting your work out there” and networking with others. But great work often requires that we work in isolation. When writing her book The Rise, Sarah Lewis sent an early draft to her editor where she learned this lesson the hard way. “I wasn’t ready for his critique, and it ended up costing me six months of work,” she says.
In this talk, Lewis speaks to the importance of the private domain. Many of the greats, such as Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, or Maya Angelou, made sure they carved out a special time and place for their craft. “Putting something out in the world,” says Lewis, “requires a temporary removal from it.”
Sarah Lewis has served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, been selected for Oprah’s “Power List,” and is a faculty member at Yale University, School of Art in the MFA program. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an M. Phil from Oxford University, and received her Ph.D. from Yale University in March 2014.
Her debut book, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Masterywill be released by Simon & Schuster U.S., HarperCollins U.K. in March 2014. The Riseis a layered, story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative progress are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable, the unlikely, even failure.
Her second book, based on her Yale dissertation, Black Sea, Black Atlantic: Frederick Douglass, The Circassian Beauties, and American Racial Formation in the Wake of the Civil War, for which she has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, is under contract with Harvard University Press for release in 2015. Her essays on contemporary art have been published widely in journals such as Callaloo, Artforum and Art in America, and in publications including Rizzoli, the Smithsonian, The Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She has held positions at both the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is currently a board member of The Andy Warhol for the Visual Arts, the CUNY Graduate Center, and The Brearley School. She lives in New York City.