Minor Truths: Monotypes by Sarah Smelser can be viewed on Artsy through May 1st, 2020.
Minor Truths includes twenty monotypes by Sarah Smelser spanning nineteen years of her artistic output. Smelser’s choice of monotype as a primary medium is unusual, as is her approach to it. Monotypes are often thought of as painterly, a process in which images can be made rapidly. Looking at Smelser’s monotypes, the affinity to drawing rather than painting is immediately apparent, as is her detailed and meticulous manner of image making. The artist’s works are modest in scale, and an obvious love of materials comes through in her use of Asian and Western papers. There is an overall sensuous appeal in her oeuvre.
In her abstract prints Smelser uses transparent veils of color to delineate spaces which are punctuated with linear marks overlaying the composition. The drawn lines create patterns or webs, or accumulate to create additional forms. The lines are made in various colors and sometimes appear as negative within a color field. Smelser’s division of space suggests associations with aerial views of farmland and quilting.
While Smelser’s practice is about an abstract sensibility, more specifically, she compares types, memories and impressions of landscapes, and examines how place can be translated into an abstract image. Travel is integral to her work as she contemplates the way the landscape of her childhood conditions how she approaches the world as an adult. Her work is not an attempt to find answers about this relationship, but rather to consider the familiar and foreign feelings of place, landscape and space, each with its own punctuations, patterns, sequences and tone.
”The artist writes:
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.
About the artist:
Sarah Smelser earned her BA from UC Santa Cruz and MFA from the University of Iowa. Smelser has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Bridgewater/Lustberg & Blumenfeld in NYC; Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids; and at many university galleries across the United States. Her work has been reviewed in Art On Paper and New American Paintings. Smelser has been artist in residence at numerous residencies, including the Vermont Studio Center, Franz Masereel Centrum (Belgium), Artica (Spain), Kala Art Institutue, Jentel Artist Residency, Ballinglen Arts Foundation (Ireland) and Skopelos Foundation for the Arts (Greece). Her work is included in the collections of the Library of Congress, Reader’s Digest Association, the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University, the New York Public Library, Hallmark Corporate Collection, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Antwerp), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia), the Spencer Museum at the University of Kansas, and many others. Sarah Smelser is a Professor of Art at Illinois State University.