Intimate Economies by Krysta Sa

Krysta Sa is one of the recipients of Arts Everywhere’s 2020-2021 Student Arts Innovation Grant! The project that she proposed for the grant, Intimate Economies, is also her final thesis project for her Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art. Intimate Economies, part installation and part interactive performance, examines what it means to offer and receive care, especially during this time when society is physically separated. Read more below to learn about Sa, her project, and her experiences bringing the project to life.

About Krysta Sa

Prior to attending graduate school at UNC, Sa worked as a caregiver and librarian. Her time and experiences gained in these occupations greatly influenced her current work as an artist.

Photo courtesy of Krysta Sa

One of her professors in the Art and Art History department says that because of Sa’s unique background and perspective, her research is “incredibly relevant to the cultural phenomenon of self-care.” The professor continues, “In tandem with the rise of anxiety, burnout and stress, new waves of obsession with self-improvement and wellness have taken over, Krysta delves into how contemporary culture consumes and is consumed by all these self-help treatments—books, tinctures, complicated skincare routines, Pilates/Yoga, baths rituals, and so forth, parasitically mining these rituals and treatments from one culture to another.”

The idea of care has always been on the forefront of Sa’s mind and continues to influence her work today.

“Colors, Smells, Magic and Mania”

In her grant proposal, Sa led with this question, “As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic leaves few options to share physical touch and space with one another, what are ways care can be exchanged remotely?” Sa addresses that question through Intimate Economies, an exhibition that transmits care to be sensed and shared from a distance. For Sa, this project was born out of a lot of research around gendered healing practices and again, was a project that came very naturally to her since care has always been a crucial component of her work, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the exhibition portion of Intimate Economies, the gallery will be “dark and lined with silver vinyl and pink salts…the lighting will be a mix of pink and red spotlights…medicinal plants and herbs will fill the room” according to Sa. In addition, “it will look as if there is a glow coming from the gallery, signaling a site of magic and transformation.”

Images representing Intimate Economies as provided by Sa

The interactive performance portion will be streamed on April 26th, the night of the full pink moon. During this 12-hour period, Sa will be taking live calls and asking the prompt, how do you sense care? From the center of the labyrinth, Sa will “perform various treatments for viewers using light therapies, healing sound practices, ASMR and reading from works of fiction and non-fiction that highlight topics of care, healing and health.” Sa says the goal “is to challenge boundaries placed on the “care-giver” and “care-receiver” while prioritizing accessibility, connection, and healing of the individuals calling and tuning in.”

It has been a long two years of process, experimentation, and research but Sa is grateful because the exhibition has given “a space for me to sort through materials, ideas, and emotions.” She emphasizes the importance of this project as it is “a space of exchange and connection, something that continues to be needed in a time marked by increased isolation and loneliness.”

And with the help of the Student Arts Innovation Grant, Sa was able to see her project “come to life” and it gave her the financial means to purchase materials “to continue to transform the gallery space into frenzied state of care production.”

What should viewers expect or takeaway from this exhibit and experience? “Colors, smells, magic, and mania!”

View the Intimate Economies installation through the glass of the Allcott Gallery at the Hanes Art Center from April 25-27. The interactive performance will be streamed on Twitch ( on April 26 from 7 pm to 7 am. Additionally, check out her interactive site to see what the Intimate Economies experience entails.