Utilizing transparent veils of color and thin Asian papers, Sarah Smelser creates prints with an abstract sensibility that are informed by drawing and that reference cartography, the body, cycles in nature, and mundane objects. She has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Bridgewater/Lustberg & Blumenfeld, and Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York. Her work is included in the collections of the Library of Congress, Ballinglen Museum of Contemporary Art, JP Morgan Chase Art Collection, Reader’s Digest Association, The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; New York Public Library, and the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University.
Sarah Smelser received her BA from University of California at Santa Cruz, her MA and MFA from the University of Iowa.
Smelser has had solo exhibitions at Bridgewater/Lustberg & Blumenfeld in New York City, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York City, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI, Carnegie Mellon University, Bradley University, University of Wyoming, Diablo Valley College, Luther College and Spencer College. Her work has been included in many invitational and juried shows, and been shown at numerous art fairs including Art Frankfurt, Estampa (in Madrid), EXPO Chicago, the Affordable Art Fair NYC, Art Miami, Red Dot Art Fair in New York and Miami, Art Santa Fe, Art Chicago, EDITION Chicago, Boston Print Fair, Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair, Editions/Artists’ Book Fair, and the Los Angeles Art Show. Smelser’s work has been reviewed in Art on Paper: The Journal of Prints, Drawings and Photography, Abstract Art Online, Monotype, Monoprint, & Strappo Ezine and reproduced in New American Paintings.
Sarah is Professor of Art and Associate Director of the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University, Normal, IL
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 SmelserArtist's Statement