Visions & Fissures

Sarah West

November 7 – November 22

Sarah West
Artist Statement

Technology  “is the product of a profound human desire for transcendence: to be out of body, out of mind, beyond language. Virtual space and dataspace constitute the domain, previously provided by myth and religion, where imagination, desire, and will can reengage the forces of space, time and matter in the battle for a new reality”.  – Roy Ascott

My work references both Early Renaissance paintings and digital technology through highly-saturated and detailed hybrids of painting styles. The religious narratives combined with digital symbols and artifacts of digital processes suggest the spiritual undercurrents surrounding digital technology in its potential for enlightenment, transcendence, and evoking a sense of the infinite.

As a body, the work refers to the history of image-making and hints at an elusiveness in capturing the world around us. Paintings from the Early Renaissance era are marked by a flawed understanding of perspective, resulting in awkward spatial depictions immediately evident to contemporary viewers. Despite our progress in creating realistic depictions of the natural world, the fact that many Photoshop tools used to create more believable depictions of form and space are already identifiable to a contemporary viewer suggests a persistent inability to capture the physical world in all of its complexity. Within my paintings, visual cues of photo-editing software point to a type of idealized virtual reality while the disjointed space of the Renaissance compositions and computer glitch imagery reminds the viewer this ideal space is fraught with roadblocks. By calling attention to the tools used to create illusions, I remind the viewer that our understanding of reality is often mediated and therefore less concrete than we might think.

There is a sense of a quest for the spiritual in both Renaissance and digital spaces that I find fascinating. Echoing this perennial quest, I position my viewer as an explorer and navigator roaming through various types of spaces coexisting within one composition, addressing the potential for fluidity between the concrete and the ineffable.

I feel it’s important to look at our culture in light of the past as a means to make sense of our experience in an increasingly rapidly shifting society. The recent strides in technological discovery in addition to my experience growing up at a time when the Internet first became widely available have generated a personal fascination with shifting modes of perceiving the world. Cyberspace with its endless databanks has become “ ‘nature’ for postmodern man” (Lyotard 51). This digital scenery has become so integrated into my life that I feel it is important to examine critically, attempting to understand and consider the cognitive and perceptual results. Instead of using a digital medium to talk about this experience I incorporate the historicity of oil on canvas or panel to enforce the tension between new and old present in my compositional subject matter.

My work points to the persistence of our desire to be transported by visual means and explores ways the spiritual realm has been represented in the past and today. The resulting paintings evoke a divine encounter, reflecting on both the religious subject matter referenced in Renaissance sources and the mystical aura surrounding new technologies.

About the Artist:


2012: MFA Emphasis in painting, Clemson University

2009: School of the Art Institute of Chicago

2008: Post Baccalaureate Certificate, Virginia Commonwealth University

2007: BA in Studio Art, emphasis in Painting with a minor in Psychology, Wake Forest University


Sarah’s work has been shown in the following Solo/ 2 Person Exhibitions:

2014: The Thing In Itself, 2-person exhibition, Bibb City Gallery, Columbus, GA

2013: Visions & Fissures, solo, W.C. Bradley Co. Museum, Columbus, Georgia

2012: Visions & Fissures, MFA 2-person exhibition, Lee Gallery, Clemson, SC


Below is a selection of the Group Exhibitions Sarah’s work has been shown in:

2014: Millenial, Movement Gallery of Art, Atlanta, GA

2014: Let There Be Art, Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA

2014: Live Amateurs, Mint Gallery, Atlanta, GA;  juror: Craig Drennen

2013: Georgia Artists Selecting Georgia Artists, MOCA GA, Atlanta, GA; jurors: Xie Caomin, Larry Walker and Martha Whittington

2012: National Wet Paint Juried Exhibition: Contemporary MFA Painting; Exhibition, Zhou B Gallery, Chicago, IL

2012: Reaction/Action, Lee Gallery, Clemson, SC

2011: Upstate Visual Arts, 2011 Fall Juried Show, Village Studios, Greenville, SC; juror: Tom Flowers, Professor Emeritus of Art at Furman University

2010: Midnight Snacks: Chicago,1366 Space, Chicago, IL

2008: Treading Water, Virginia Commonwealth University Fine Arts Building, Richmond, VA


Below is a selection of Reviews and Publications about Sarah’s work:

2013: “SVM Interview: Sarah Butler”, Roberto Caligaris, Southern Views Magazine, Feb-March 2013, Print

2013: “Visions and Fissures: An exhibition of paintings by Sarah Kent Butler”, Paula Acton, Spectrum, First Quarter 2013, Print

2013: “ArtBeat 2013”, Sandra Okamoto, Ledger Enquirer, Columbus GA newspaper, March 13, 2013, Print

2010: “Midnight Snacks” Review, Chicago Art Magazine, March 2010, Online


Below is  a selection of Sarah’s Professional Experience:

Spring 2013 Adjunct Instructor, Beginning Painting, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA

Fall 2013 Adjunct Instructor, Drawing 2, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA


Below is a selection of awards Sarah has received:

2013: John Acorn Award in Graduate Fine Arts Studio, awarded for “outstanding performance in the Studio Arts”, Clemson University

2012: Cecilia Voelker Award for Excellence in Art History, Clemson University

2012: 2nd place, Let There Be Art 2012 Exhibition, Columbus Museum

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