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.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 9)


Welcome to Posit 9!

We love this first issue of 2016, which makes us think, in a number of different ways, about the expansive potential of artistic innovation. First, there is the incorporation and re-appropriation managed by the procedural poetry of Carlo Matos and Travis Macdonald, offering glimpses of the erased and remixed words of writers like Simone Muench, Mark Lamoureux, and Paul Killibrew. In addition, there is the implicit dialogue between new and previous work by returning contributors — in this issue: Darren C. Demaree, Howie Good, and Travis Macdonald. All of which reminds us of the extent to which art is, by definition, about incorporation and re-imagination, whether it is Anis Shivani’s Great Wall, Howie Good’s tornado, Robert McBrearty life story, Eileen Tabios’s litany of wonders and horrors, or the alchemical transformation of source material aced by every artist (visual as well as literary) featured in this exciting issue. So, it is with great pleasure that we invite you to peruse:

Darren C. Demaree’s spare, suggestive, “quiet, lowered /. . . roaring/ . . .& ecstatic” probings of identity, intimacy, and the quest for grace;

Samantha Duncan’s smart, tightly-wound, vivid constructions tracking a paradoxical “graduation from the gradient” via “veins that listen” to her extremely telling “curl/ of words;”

Raymond Farr’s wistful prosody, revealing “the sublime the ironic like a 5 o’clock shadow” where “love is a man ruled by the sun & not the itch in his bones” and “even this sad yellow paint has seven shades of itself;”

Howie Good’s somber prose poems populated by “a new god seated on a throne of razor wire,” “gray gulls, their shrieks like symptoms of dementia,” and “words, some bandaged, others still bleeding” mercifully leavened by irony, imagination, and even love;

Maja Lukic’s quietly intense evocations of cityscapes furnished with “gutted wind” and a sky which “promises to rain / money bags and emoji,” or offers snow like “cracked glitter, paw imprints in new dustings, / effigies of our old breath, frozen in the air;”

Travis Macdonald’s compelling remixes of poems by Killibrew and Lamoureux, demonstrating “how all true/going is taking” and raising intriguing questions about the relationship between vocabulary and voice;

Carlo Matos’ haunting erasures of Simone Muench’s Wolf Centos (themselves reconfigurations of other poetic texts), troubling our assumptions about center vs periphery, absence vs presence, and the loud voice of the unsaid, “when tenderness/nestles down/with her she-mask” — “sans teeth, sans/you;”

Robert Garner McBrearty’s impossibly compressed microfiction, in which the task of writing his companion’s life story deteriorates to stunning effect;

Cindy Savett’s intriguing invitation to follow her on “a trip where the babies lie flat/ tracing resistance with their fingertips” leading us careening “down the middle in an instant of delight,” only to stand speechless wondering “how do I sing of white lilacs and pine?”

Anis Shivani’s virtuosic bricolage of allusive musicality and aphoristic insights nailing “art, the fleabite to time,” transforming “partial manuscripts signed/ by the angels of detritus” into “experimental gardens . . . [imbued with] the nuance of musicality;”

Eileen R. Tabios’ masterful litany of all that could never again be forgotten, once she “composed this song that would turn you into ice, so that you will know with my next note what it means to shatter into tiny pieces the universe will ignore;”

and Leah Umansky’s inspired revelations of the “satisfaction in seeing the day as something clear for landing or for sending off” where “once, there was the falling of night and I was alone with its steepness, and . . . felt I was a pooling of light; a door-sliver and golden beam.”

Thank you, as ever, for reading.

Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann


And welcome to the visual art of Posit 9!

Keren Kroul’s complex and beautiful paintings evoke maps of imaginary countries or the pathways of the brain. The individual sections stand strongly on their own, but conjoined in the large grids presented here, they make a statement that is simultaneously bold and intimate. The sum is as beautiful as the parts.

The mixed media sculptures of Sydney Ewerth turn our expectations about space and materials topsy-turvy. Her play with the object and its painted shadows confounds our expectations even while her materials and colors delight the eye. Her aesthetic is clear and the work masterful.

Don Porcaro choreographs an elegant dance between the two- and three-dimensional pieces presented here. It is evident how his work in one medium reverberates into another. His colorful and almost playful forms belie the serious artistic concerns that underlie this evocative body of work.

The lyrical paintings of Sarah Slavick are reminiscent of the movement of water, wind and sand. The rhythm and dynamism of her patterns are mesmerizing, with light and color moving through and around them, underscoring their complexity.

Mariah Karson presents a fascinating vision of landscape, whether it be the interior landscapes of abandoned school buildings or the poetics of isolated buildings in desolate settings. The solitude in her photographs is profound, and perhaps a little lonely. However, she frames this vision with a clarity that is elegant and precise.

Melissa Stern