Sage was raised in the rural Appalachian mountains of Virginia, where he was homeschooled off the grid. Encouraged to explore his curiosities at every turn, he continues to explore his surroundings in a similar manner. Today, his work explores notions of culture, place, and identity.
He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and four chickens. He has a BFA in graphic design from Virginia Commonwealth University (2008), and spent the past 10 years working as an interactive designer and art director before starting his own studio in 2015. Trail running, fly fishing, and cooking help maintain his sanity.
His work has been published by Aint-Bad Magazine, and exhibited at the Newspace Gallery coSPACE in Portland, Oregon.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Fieldwork
2015 – present
When and where did Fieldwork begin?
East of Oregon’s Cascade range there’s a dramatic shift in climate from the damp, wet, forested mountains, to an arid expanse of sagebrush and juniper. This vast landscape, the high desert, is the primary inspiration for Fieldwork. This place has an inexplicable hold over me, bringing me back time and time again.
It’s easy to think that the desert is empty, dry, and void of life but if you know where to look (or how to see it) there’s a complex web of relationships that exist, creating a wild and diverse ecosystem. In many ways, I think that’s how Fieldwork began. I was initially simply documenting restoration projects being done by a local conservation non-profit on a fairly surface level, not seeing the project as much deeper than simply documenting the work, but as I began to put the pieces together I started to see a more complex story unfolding.
Where do you see this project going?
I started to realize that while each of the subjects in this work come from different experiences, they’re all brought together by the relationship they share with this unique landscape. Ultimately this series is about our relationship to place and what that means. The investigation of that relationship has become the primary focus of Fieldwork.
I plan to continue this project for some time, digging as deep as I can to understand this particular piece of the puzzle. Simultaneously, I’m going to continue my investigation into the complex web of relationships surrounding this place as far as it can take me, probably resulting in a few different projects in the end.
Much of the work being done throughout this series takes place on federally managed public lands. As public lands continue to come under threat from our current administration, I’m thinking about how Fieldwork can contribute to that conversation, ultimately hoping to show a positive example of public lands stewardship and the greater value of public lands to a wider audience. I hope that this project can inspire viewers to examine their own relationship to public lands, and if they don’t have one, start one.
The work hasn’t been exhibited anywhere, but that’s definitely on my mind.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
It’s so obvious, but the biggest thing I’ve learned recently is how important it is to continue putting time and energy into my practice, even when I don’t want to, and especially when it feels hard. It’s not easy, and I struggle a lot finding my focus and productivity on a regular basis. Building consistency over time for anything I do is always key for me — work, running, writing, whatever.
I try and write regularly, first thing every morning if possible, and that really helps set me straight for the day. Running is also huge. I often wish I had a way to record my thoughts when I’m out on a long run. More than anything I’m trying to be mindful as much as possible and stay focused on the bigger picture. It’s easy to get bogged down and stuck in my own head, and I hate that. I’m trying to be more positive.
What’s next for you?
I have a few projects in their early stages that I am looking forward to developing further, but I don’t know how to explain them yet. The dream is to travel as much as I can and get paid to make photographs. Going back to school may be in my future at some point, which is exciting and terrifying at the same time.