My work is a response to my personal experiences of my home region in the Midwest. I see life as preparation for the way I paint and the work I am currently making. Even though my connection to the small town farm culture that shaped me as I grew up played a major role in how I approach these works, I believe it can speak to people from a variety of places and experiences.
My perception of a specific sense of place guides me while these local settings offer abundant material. Strong emotions can be prompted by a place. Over time, ways of life shape and define the people and the spaces in which they live. I am drawn to areas and structures that show character acquired from the history and memory of the people that formed that environment.
Aesthetically I am interested in light sources and the play of light on surfaces. This led me to work with nightscapes of familiar yet isolated and unremarkable buildings and scenes located in rural areas close to my home. I use darkness to edit out extraneous information and provide the viewer with the essence of the place. This approach applied to slightly familiar yet hauntingly isolated areas permits me to transform the common place and make the insignificant significant.
I’ve spent the last several years trying to capture rural Midwestern identity in my paintings. Recently I’ve also become interested in finding ways to give myself a sense of perspective for my understanding of small rural areas in Missouri. It has occurred to me that embedding myself into other environments is the next step in expanding my work. I believe that by trying to understand other rural regions of the country in terms of the landscape, the structures and town layouts, I can better see what makes the Midwest unique and “home” for me. Recently, I had the opportunity to do a residency in Key West, FL. This new body of work is about the similarities and differences between that region and what I recognize as my “home” in Missouri.
I love seeing how people from other regions and backgrounds relate to my work. I’m finding the more specific I can be, the more universal the work somehow becomes. I hope my work allows people to think about where they come from and take pride in the collective identity of their home region.
Sarah Williams received her MFA in 2009 from University of North Texas and has been exhibiting widely across the U.S. She has received many awards, including Purchase Award from UNT's Art in Public Places in 2009 and a Hunting Art Prize Finalist in 2010. She has exhibited and participated in a panel for the Dallas Contemporary’s Here, There & Beyond, and recently completed an artist-in-residence program in Key West. Williams exhibited at the Galveston Arts Center, and had a solo exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in 2010.