Sarah Slavick

Artist’s Statement

My paintings are abstracted interiors of the body made of cells, neurons, blood, milk, veins, wounds, and sutures. They are the stuff of regeneration, of connection, of disease and ultimately of recovery. The visual formal language is one of abstract evocations rather than depictions, but derives from and is inspired by celebrations and lamentations of the social and physical experiences of humanity. The beauty of painting is that it can communicate profoundly and may reflect upon human history. While my paintings are informed by such tragedies as AIDS and joyous events like birth, I do not desire or aim for any specific reading or interpretation. Instead, the works offer multiple possibilities.

With climate change an ever pressing concern, and rising seas, water scarcity, ocean pollution, and other extreme weather patterns becoming the norm, I find myself looking to the vast expanses of water as a source for my most recent body of work. While my work is abstract, I reference nature visually and conceptually. For instance, in the Phylum and other works, I reference cell biology, accretion of geological formations, botanical structures and the taxonomy of the natural world.

During the very physical work of additive and subtractive layering in my work, there are numerous conceptual and physical changes that occur. In past work, I created large wood paintings made up of grids of painted small panels which arose out of my own experience of motherhood and spoke to the sustenance of new life. Some work was also inspired by the miraculous feat of cell division into the journey of creation and birth of new life. More recently, I have made paintings containing hundreds of pieces of wood of various heights, widths, and lengths (as seen in Rime and Phylum). Each piece of wood or paper represents a separate entity but is linked with its surrounding neighbors by various systematic rules and decisions. The small singular elements of the multi-paneled pieces are meant to exist in equal strength to the whole. In effect, nothing is disconnected from the whole. The individual cannot exist without the support of the whole; but, nevertheless, it remains distinctly unique. The singular elements in all of these works ultimately change in form and substance by building into something greater than themselves. A transmutation occurs from part to the whole.

Sarah Slavick (b. Munich, Germany, 1958) received her BA in Studio Art from Wesleyan University and an MFA from Pratt Institute. Slavick received a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant in Painting in 2006, as well as grants from the Artist Resource Trust Fund, the Blanche Colman Foundation and residency fellowships at the Millay Colony, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, CAMAC in Marnay-sur-Seine, Kunstnarhuset Messen in Aalvik, Norway, and the Baer Art Center in Iceland. Her work has been exhibited in Big Bang! Abstract Painting for the 21st Century at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, at the Miller Block Gallery in Boston, Giola Gallery in Chicago, Tao Water Gallery in Provincetown and in Natural Acts at the Massachusetts Convention Center. Slavick has lectured about her work at Bowdoin College, the University of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Studio Arts Center International in Florence, and the Maryland Institute of Art, among others. A member of a large family, she has five siblings, three of whom are also professional artists.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.