Sarah Smelser

Sarah Smelser

Artist
Profile Location
IL
Biography

Sarah Smelser received her BA from University of California at Santa Cruz, her MA and MFA from the University of Iowa. She has been an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center; The Franz Masereel Center in Kasterlee, Belgium; Artica in Bilbao, Spain; Kala Art Institute in Emeryville, CA; Jentel Artist Residency in Banner, WY; and Skopelos Foundation for the Arts in Skopelos, Greece, Anchor Graphics in Chicago; and the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland. Her work is in such collections the Readers' Digest Association, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, the Spencer Museum at University of Kansas, Hallmark Corporate Collection, and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts.

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), the Affordable Art Fair in New York, 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, as well as Abstract Art Online, and has been reproduced in New American Paintings. Most recently Smelser was the featured interview in Monotype, Monoprint, & Strappo Ezine.

Smelser is a Professor of Art at Illinois State University and a co-founder of Manneken Press with husband Master Printer Jonathan Higgins. Manneken Press is a fine art print publishing venture, currently thriving in Bloomington, IL, publishing the work of artists from around the United Stares and Columbia. From 2006 to 2008 Smelser acted as President of the Mid America Print Council, a national non-profit organization of artist printmakers and educators.

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.

 
 

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