by Sarah Smelser
February 24 - March 21, 2014
Center for Faith and Life

Sarah Smelser

Sarah Smelser is an associate professor of art at Illinois State University, Normal, IL. She received her BA degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her MA and MFA degrees from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She has been an artist-in-residence at both the Vermont Studio Center and the Jentel Artist Residency in Banner, WY, along with international residencies in Spain, Belgium, and Greece.  Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Bridgewater/Lustberg & Blumenfeld, and also Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, both in New York City, and included in shows and fairs in Frankfurt, Madrid, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. In 2007, she was one of 15 American artists invited to participate in the China Sanbao International Printmaking Exhibition and Symposium. Her work has been reviewed in Art on Paper: The Journal of Prints, Drawings and Photography, as well as Abstract Art Online and New American Paintings. In 2000, she co-founded Manneken Press with her husband, Master Printer, Jonathan Higgins. Manneken Press is a fine arts press in Bloomington, IL that publishes works of artists from New York, Texas and Columbia.

For more information about Sarah Smelser and her work, please visit her personal website

Artist Statement

When asked about my work, I often say that it is about an abstract sensibility.  This is an honest answer, but not a complete one.  It is also about relationships, contrast, balance, and organizing space.  I casually or perhaps coincidentally make reference to cartography, the body, cycles in nature, and mundane objects.  I also allude to systems and structures that are both natural and man-made.  More deliberately, I consider and depict conversations I have had, songs I hear, private jokes, anecdotes, and poems. Although these references are present in the work, either on the surface or deep down below, they do not inspire or initiate it.  The work is generated by an urgent curiosity and is sustained by the excitement of discovery.

 I am curious about how forms can speak to one another, I often categorize forms by placing them into opposing camps: fast or slow, solid or particulate, square or curved, impulsive or meditative.  At times these forms of conflicting character simply exist together in a space and stand in contradiction to one another.  Perhaps they read as different places, genders, or moments in time.  Other times they relate, react, acknowledge one another, collide, veer apart, or perform an ambiguous task.  My imagery is evidence of an interior conversation. It is also an effort to tread a line between elegant and awkward, deliberate and intuitive, skilled and naïve.”

-Sarah Smelser