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Sarah Smelser, (Re)treat

Kathryn Markel Fine Arts
529 West 20th Street, 212-366-5368
April 9 - May 30, 2009
Reception: Thursday, April 9, 6 - 8 PM
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Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to announce (Re)treat, a new exhibition of monotype works on paper by Illinois-based artist Sarah Smelser.

In this, Smelser’s second exhibition with Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, the print artist exhibits a new body of unique images in which her abstract visual language tells provocative stories of awkward, tentative shapes trying to find their way in a world brimming with shapes of color. Her technique is trace monotype – a complicated printing process in which an etching based linearity combines with rich washes of color absorbed on a thin Japanese paper. She restricts her palette to merely four or five colors, and reuses the forms in her image. She keeps certain words in her mind as she works – elegant, clumsy, awkward, poetic, musical, restrained, staid, limited, pure, necessary, flawed, mortal – while juxtaposing fantasy forms of different characters. Larger, solid shapes are blunt, almost macho, interacting with figures that are delicate and weak. Thus, her work seems familiar and strange at the same time. Forms confer and conflict with odd masses of color. Thoughtful, tensile lines interrupt and take over the storyline in their frailty. These slightly anthropomorphic and organic images weave and bob, pushing the narrative forward.

About the Artist

Sarah Smelser was born in 1971, and currently lives and works in Bloomington, Illinois where she teaches at Illinois State University. She has shown extensively across the United States and is the co-founder of Manneken Press in Bloomington. Her work is in the US Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and Chase Manhattan Bank. Ms. Smelser has been awarded residencies at the Franz Masereel Center in Kasterlee, Belgium (2000), ARTica in Bilbao, Spain (2001), Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA (1993/94, 2003, 2004) and the Vermont Studio Center (1999). She received her MFA and MA from the University of Iowa and her BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
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