BY J.E. RADDATZ (Defunct)

Sarah Schneiderman creates captivating morphologically correct fish

assemblages out of clean trash, found objects and discarded items.

Have you ever had the pleasure of eating in a fish and chip joint decorated with

all kinds of fish related paraphernalia? You know… walls covered with pictures of

dudes holding up some big catch, pictures of fishing boats, fish nets, heavily

lacquered sea bass taxidermy jobs and mounted fish bas reliefs made of beer

caps. I love marine kitsch. It makes me feel happy.

I want to cautiously compare what Sarah Schneiderman does with beer cap

marine kitsch mostly on the grounds that her fish sculptures are cheerful, colorful

and make me feel happy. But the comparison ends there because Sarah takes

the art of making fish out of discarded objects to a whole other level of skill. This

art is way beyond gluing a bunch of beer caps on a backdrop in the form of a

generic fish.

As I already pointed out, her fish are accurate representations of actual species

she has personally encountered in the course of her time spent diving. They are

morphologically correct. Each fish assemblage is a testament to the incredible

variety of anatomical design or fish body architecture represented in her Marine

Life series.

Her titles speak of precise biological nomenclature. They identify the species of

fish under scrutiny. You could easily use her work to successfully identify said


The materials Schneiderman uses are incredibly varied. The Puddingwife

juvenile piece is made of a wood base with feathers, ribbon, food wrappers,

beads, buttons, a tape measure, silk flowers, and dense Styrofoam. The adult

Puddingwife piece is made of wood, fabric, ribbon, a hair clip, beads, plastic,

foam, food wrappers, and a comb. Each piece uses materials best suited to

capturing everything you need to know about the particular species of fish being

depicted: it’s color markings, predation style, swimming specializations and so


Part of the immense pleasure I derive from Sarah’s sculptures involves

identifying these quite diverse materials and how they all come together in any

given assemblage. I enjoy studying how she judiciously uses all this discarded

human material to capture the essential qualities of the species of fish she is

depicting. She achieves an impressive balance with these materials that results

in an amazingly true to life representation of a specific species of fish that is

nonetheless an emotively expressive piece of art.

Being an avid diver, Sarah’s fascination with Marine Life is born from experience:

"I took up SCUBA diving about two years ago and have over 200 dives in various

parts of the Caribbean and Eastern United States. My home base is Glastonbury,

Connecticut. After diving for several months, I started to use clean trash, found

objects, and unwanted items to create examples of the marine life I’ve seen.

Diving for me is a transformative experience. It’s calming and quiet — like

meditating. Most often, being underwater is a thing of immense beauty. The fish,

coral, and creatures are incredible. When I’m away from the water, creating

these marine creatures transports me back to the ocean depths.”

Sarah describes her work thusly:

"What I do pertains to both the environment of bodies of water and to

conservation of the environment through the use of recycled materials. Further, it

addresses my inner environment– the one of the spirit– since my spirit is

nourished both through diving and through making art. Not only am I creating a

thing of beauty, but I hope through the practice of using debris in my artwork, I’m

keeping garbage that turns into pollution out of the waste stream.”

You can view Sarah Schneiderman’s compelling Marine Life sculptures


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