Sarah Grew

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Quick Facts
Lives in
Eugene, Oregon
University of Michigan
encaustic, encaustics, encaustics/mixed, mixed-media, modern, photography

My paintings examine concepts of Time and modes of expressing temporality. In my current body of work I have sifted through art history to find many ways the passage of time is expressed visually and to combine these traces into abstract works using a range of materials and techniques. So far I have focused on five modes of temporal expression: Light, Motion, Stillness, Counting, and Memory.

One of the inspirations for my current body of work comes from the apocryphal story of the ancient Greek artists, Apelles and Protogenes, competing to draw the “perfect line.” I became fascinated with imagining this perfection and concluded that the perfect line is a horizontal as the horizon is always part of our visual field. However, what I find interesting about the horizontal is the breaking of it, the interruption, whether it is a blade of grass standing up, the broken horizontal bands of reflection on water, the mechanical repetition of an EKG, or perhaps merely the suggestion of the horizontal line interrupted continually. Taking these thoughts further, I researched the ways the horizontal line functions within human perception and have found that while we are vertical creatures, standing on two feet, science finds the horizontal is comforting and calming, a line that is meditative and sublime. Ironically the perfect line then is the flat-line which medically, as in an EKG, equals death. The interruption then, becomes a representation of life itself, the repeated jolt of the beating heart.

From the ambiguous moment when color and form hover between the abstract and the particular my current paintings study the function of line, form and gesture, the play of light and color, the translucence of paint and how to capture movement in stillness. I am a firm believer in the slow process of looking and manipulating paint. On the one hand I follow tradition painting mostly with oil paint but on the other, I use many non-traditional tools to paint with; sand paper, clay shapers, and squeegees as well as brushes and dental tools. I paint on wooden panels, paper and metal sheets. Recently, I have begun a process oriented experiment about time and the horizontal line as a timeline in which I create digital negatives of my drawings that I print using cyanotype technology on hand sensitized paper. The print is coated with clear acrylic and then painted using either egg tempera or oil paint. The idea is that each layer of the work uses materials and technology of different eras and thus accentuates temporality while fusing time into a series of painted gestures.

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