We can’t deny that running offers us a powerful sense of place. The landscapes with which we share these activities become bound to us on a deeper level. And while our footsteps may fade, we carry the stories of these spaces with us through the world. Few capture this idea better than runner, photographer, and Olympian — Sarah Attar. An inspiring athlete, artist, and advocate of women’s rights - her photography celebrates the powerful, beautiful places we see while traveling on two feet. We catch up with Sarah on running, photography, and the collection designed to celebrate the incredible places we find ourselves flying.
MEGAN: TELL US ABOUT THE COLLECTION!
SARAH: This is such a special and exciting collection. Oiselle X Sarah Attar combines my creative endeavors with running in a way unlike any other. These two passions of mine, running and photography, feed into and inspire each other, and I am so excited and grateful to share that intersection through this collection.
It was awesome to be part of the whole design process. I loved seeing all that goes into each garment made, and the extra details that Oiselle goes above and beyond on. We collaborated on which photos to use, and I got to design the personalized hang-tags specifically for this collaboration, so fun! Every update from Sally with photos of the sample products and prototypes had me elated. And now to have my hands on the final product is incredible. I love how seeing these items takes me back to the moment I took each of those photos, and I absolutely love getting to share those moments with you. Especially in a way that you can now carry on your own runs. I hope that through the items I am able to pass along the same inspiration and awe that I feel in these landscapes. It is my pleasure to share a piece of the following places with you in the form of these shirts and hats:
Mammoth Lakes, California - Twin Lakes from Lake Mary Road, a favorite view spot.
Vashon Island, Washington - a dreamy forested dirt road seen while on a run.
San Diego, California - a classic beach scene taken while paragliding at Torrey Pines.
M: RUNNING HAS TAKEN YOU SOME INCREDIBLE PLACES. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE ONES, AND WHY?
S: It really amazes me when I think about all of the places running has taken me. One of my favorites has to be where I live now, Mammoth Lakes, California. Running is what brought me here, to train with Coach Kastor and the Mammoth Track Club, and I am so inspired by both the group and the area. I feel like I've really connected to this place in a way that resonates deeply with my running and photography, which is really special.
My first marathon in Big Sur in 2012 is also incredibly special. It was a place and distance that I'd been infatuated with for a bit, and had yet to experience. It was such an awe-inspiring way to experience both Big Sur and the marathon distance for the first time. Naturally I had to document this experience, which you can see here.
It was at this first marathon in Big Sur that I qualified for Boston. I ran my first Boston in 2013, the year of the bombings. While it did not affect me finishing the race, it deeply impacted my attachment to the Boston Marathon (I returned to the race every year since), the marathon in general, and to the running community as a whole. There was this magic energy at the 2014 Boston Marathon that I've carried with me ever since.
Running in both the London and Rio Olympics easily stand out as some of the most impactful, incredible, and unexpected places that running has brought me. They're the two experiences that have allowed my running to evolve to where it is today, and to become about so much more than a personal endeavor, and I am grateful for such a platform.
I could honestly go on and on about the places that running has brought me, but I'll leave it at the experiences that I feel have most shaped me and my running.
M: LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY. PHOTOGRAPHS ARE, IN A WAY, A LOOK INTO HOW YOU SEE THE WORLD. YOUR IMAGES ARE BEAUTIFUL. SOMETIMES HAUNTING. THEY CAPTURE THE AWE, INSPIRATION, LONELINESS, THE POWER OF NATURE. WHERE DOES THAT STYLE COME FROM? WHAT DO YOU SEE AND FEEL BEHIND THE LENS?
S: What you've described definitely is one of my favorite aspects of photography and art in general, that it's a way to share how we see and experience the world around us. I think my style has evolved most after my move to Mammoth. I found this deep inspiration of the landscape I was in, and was so moved to share what I was seeing. I often find myself overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of it all, the way the clouds and light dance on the mountains, the texture of a frozen lake, the way the fog meanders through the trees, honestly it's enough to drive me mad (in a good way). I sometimes wonder if I experience visual stimuli in a different realm, but it's that overwhelming sense of awe that drives me to capture the moment and share it.
M: WHAT'S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THOSE TWO THINGS FOR YOU — PHOTOGRAPHY AND RUNNING? WHAT LIVES AT THE INTERSECTION OF THOSE TWO LOVES?
S: I have found that running is indeed a creative process, and that running may be a medium of sorts. Maybe it's that the earth is my studio and the documentation of these encounters, my work. This intersection of running and art has become a beautiful dialogue that I continuously explore. Letting these two passions feed one another elevates each of them. Running, for me, is definitely about my interaction with the world, and my creative process tends to be documentation of my interactions and explorations, so it was only natural that these two would evolve together. By closely exploring this relationship, I've been able to observe a few recurring aspects that have emerged at their intersection. By photographing various locations of the runs, a consistent visual of trails seems to have emerged, creating a theme of pathways in my work. It makes sense that'd I'd be drawn to this since it's how I experience most of my environments, while running on those paths. I have found this theme also extends to lines of nature, such as winding rivers, layers of rock, topographic maps, etc. This visual narrative reflects my fascination with natural traces left on the land. There's a symbolism in how we move through the land with how natural elements, like a river, also move through the land. As we pass through landscapes (as we do on our runs), we become part of a larger history of presence. Our personal geographies intermingle with thousands of years worth of other geographies of the land. It's an unspoken dialogue that connects the elements and connects humans to each other and the earth.
M: YOUR STORY AS A RUNNER HAS BECOME A MUCH BIGGER STORY ABOUT FEMALE EMPOWERMENT. GLOBALLY, AND ESPECIALLY LOCALLY IN SAUDI ARABIA. AS SOMEONE WHO IS OUT THERE SHOWING THE WORLD WHAT WOMEN CAN DO - WHAT IS YOUR HOPE, OR WISH, FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN, IN SAUDI ARABIA AND THE WORLD?
S: I am so grateful for the platform that running has provided me. It still blows me away when I reflect on the ways that I've been able to globally connect with others through something I love. It's allowed my running to take on new meaning for something so much bigger than myself. There is now a generation of girls in Saudi Arabia growing up with the possibility of competing in the Olympics, and that is so incredibly powerful. I am honored to be a voice for that, and to be someone that these girls look up to. I think it shows that when you work hard at something you're passionate about, amazing things can happen.
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