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“Art is a way to process the darkness in the world”

Sideara St. Claire, mononymously known as Sideara, is a multi-hyphenate creator of magic: a singer, an actress, a photographer, and a bag-, hat-, and accessory designer. Notorious for stomping around New York drowning in layers and layers of clothing, alien headpieces, she and her Jeffrey Campbell Lita’s have been inseparable for the past 13 years. You will never see a dull outfit on her. For our new series New York Faces, Michael O’Hara got to visit the only person that can convince us that a children’s pair of bug glasses are Mugler. Meet: Sideara.

Hello Sideara! First and foremost, how would you define yourself?

A tree frog mixed with a Chihuahua.

Tell us about your journey. When did you become interested in all of your work?

I feel very grateful that my upbringing fostered, ‘weirdo’ behaviour and I have been able to internalize it as a way of being. I wore my Mom’s high school ballet costumes to preschool (no they didn’t fit and I left bits of tulle trailing behind me everywhere.) When I was twelve, I made everyone call me, “Evil Pencil Freak” and even had complicated lore surrounding my theories about bananas and evil pencils taking over the world. I made dozens of home videos often starring a character called “Butterfly Woman” who would accidentally stab herself every episode… I don’t know. It’s hard to trace any beginnings because everything has always been so intertwined. Of course, I went through being teased mercilessly and have had shrunken-self periods, but I feel like eventually I always return to ‘world-building’ as a kind of return to myself. Art is a way to process the darkness in the world. All of my mediums feel like they have been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

Could you define your aesthetic for us?

I feel like my aesthetic is constantly in flux; it’s probably more obvious to others what is consistent about me – most simply put… I am inescapably a chaotic maximalist.

We see you have an online shop, what are some of the things you sell?

I sell accessories! I make handmade hats and bags as well as earrings and hair clips, and overall a lot of wild statement pieces – I’m obsessed with bows at the moment.

Is there a person, place or thing that really inspires you as an artist?

Archive.org is an endless supply of inspiration. I am able to have access to thousands of art books through the website which has been really fulfilling and it’s just an amazing resource to stumble upon art and artists you may have never even known about. My Mom is also really inspiring to me, she’s always dressed in a lot of colours and she truly doesn’t care about what other people think of her. When I feel really lost artistically I also often find that revisiting my favourite albums/songs and watching old movies can help a lot.

What are some things you truly love about living in New York City?

I feel like New York is a really special place. The people here are all so different and constantly set in motion. You can go anywhere at any time. There are tons of secret places and magical pockets you can stumble upon just by walking around outside. Plus, everyone’s style here is so good. Something is definitely in the water. I don’t know… you can’t beat it, it’s NEW YORK!

What does a day in the life of Sideara look like?

It varies on the day of the week – I work as a casting assistant T-F, but no matter what day it is, I get in time with at least one of my “things”, be it little friends, making accessories, writing music, or working on auditions/going to acting class. I force myself to work out (always feel better when I am consistent with that) and occasionally I will leave my apartment and have a life lol. Great days also include seeing my bf.

What is something you’re most proud of?

Even though I only have one song out right now, music is the thing that terrifies me the most, and I’m so proud of myself for continuing to explore it. Also I was in a series with Glenn Close and had a scene with her so there’s probably nothing that can top that.

If you could change something happening in the world right now, what would it be?

So much needs to change. I’d like to say Capitalism but I can’t even wrap my mind around how to tackle that one. I wish humans were more driven by pure intentions. I wish we didn’t get so warped by the desire for power. I wish we could understand the gravity of the need for change before it makes it so apparent that we can’t ignore it. If I had a genie with three wishes; first I’d wish for the knowledge on what, “change” would be the smartest to wish for because I do not have a clue.

Will Sideara ever not be platinum blonde?

There will always be a place in my heart for ‘Hayley Williams’ orange and I can’t see the future but probably not lmao.

Photography and words by Michael O’Hara