EFA STUDIO PROGRAM: Member Artists

Sarah Leahy 

Artist's Website

My objective is to create a perceptual, aesthetic experience that is immediate, intimate and reflective for the viewer, concentrating attention, evoking recognition and awareness. From the immersive large-scale, to small incidents of spatial details, each has physical and psychological components, creating a relationship for the viewer to- scale, surface and image.

I developed the materials and unique painting process I use today, choosing plexiglass for its transparency and hard, workable surface. I wanted materials that had light and air, that would dry fast and I could rework in layers. I also looked for a sense of artwork made over a period of time. To work more intimately with surface, I eliminated brushes and simplified to using my hands, sandpaper, and paper towels saturated with India ink, so that I am always touching the surface during the process of creating the image. I established this method of painting the ink on the surface of a clear sheet of sanded plexiglass, by applying multiple light ink washes while alternately burnishing with sandpaper so I could slowly build up a dense but translucent image. Darker areas are the accumulation of ink, while lighter areas are the absence, where you are viewing the white wall surface through the plexiglass. Working back and forth in this way, the painting process and surface exhibit a huge compression of time and attention, as gradually an image develops and is refined, coming into focus. I continue to explore my painting process using my technique to service the development of my work. 

I hope to paint something with an intense clarity and with nothing extra, yet without being overly dramatic. Everyday already has the beauty, boredom, ugliness, frustration, and sad tenderness in its humanity. I hope to create something that allows the fullness of the evanescent moment. 

I completed my eighth solo exhibition, titled “Material Light," with Kim Foster Gallery in November 2015. Summer and fall of 2016 my work is appearing in exhibitions in Sacramento, CA curated by Francis Pavy and the Alexandria Museum of Art, LA, curated by Gregory Volk. Recently also appearing in group exhibitions Brooklyn, NY, and the University of North Carolina, DL. In summer 2015 my work appeared in group exhibitions juried by Carter Foster and William Bailey, and in 2014, “Women Choose Women Again” at The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey curated by Mary Birmingham. I also appeared in ArtMiami in 2014 and 2013, and Art Chicago in 2009 and 2008. I have been the recipient of a grant from the New York State Foundation for the Arts, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and a studio recipient from the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. I received a Norfolk Fellowship from Yale University and a B.A. from Bennington College.