Knots and Pulses, Exhibition at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY
Friday, January 10, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

Sarah Sutton & Katie Bell
Opening Reception and Artists' Talks

Fuzzy Edges, Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, 2018Fuzzy Edges, Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, 2018.Deep Horizon, Oil on panel, 36 x 48 inches, 2019.Deep Horizon, Oil on panel, 36 x 48 inches, 2019.Katie BellKatie Bell
Artists' Talks start at 8:00 p.m. in the Cinema
Exhibitions continue through February 28.

This exhibition by Ithaca-area artist Sarah Sutton will feature a series of monochromatic oil paintings that combine representational imagery with distortions and abstractions that create scenarios in flux. They are essentially landscape paintings, but Sutton's treatment of the landscape toys with its sense of space and the notion of the built vs. the natural environment. Figurative forms occasionally emerge from the complex hybrid imagery, though they are frequently camouflaged or overwhelmed within the scenic cacophony. Her work depicts moments of collusion and collision that are not intrinsically meant to go together. It is within the resulting ambiguity that Sutton attempts to address how histories, boundaries, and skins can dissolve into one another.

As she has said, "I imagine in-between spaces, scalar fluidity, and psychic spaces, where the private and public realm collapse. Most of the time the question centers on combining spaces or moments that aren't meant to go together, letting them collude, collide and clash and then looking for pattern, resonance and schematic visual structures that emerge as I paint. The subject matter centers on the complex history of capitalism, the movement and extraction of natural resources, as well as speculative futures."

Katie Bell's Abstract Cabinet uses found and fabricated materials to construct an improvisational space that stretches the contours and objectives of painting. Walls, platforms, cabinets, columns, and curtains will be combined with scribbles, planes of color, and brush marks to create an abstracted landscape. This landscape is absent of figures, acting as a stage set before the actor arrives. A type of hybrid-play, rational and irrational, function and functionless, will take place in the gallery. The gallery space acts as a cabinet—holding nameable and nameless objects. The walls function as doors and shelves to walk around and visually open. Taking notes from the Russian Constructivists, the gallery space is as important as the objects brought into the space. With influence from El Lissitzky’s Prouns, the blurring of distinctions between real and abstract space, as Lissitzky puts it, "interchange station between painting and architecture."" The title Abstract Cabinet is a rough translation of a work made by Lissitzky in 1927 titled 'Kabinett der Abstrakten'’' in which he made a modular and changeable room to display abstract art. The room itself was a sculpture that combined his interests in furniture design, architecture, sculpture, and painting space. I am interested in this in between space—how a painting can exist as a cabinet—how a cabinet can exist as a wall—how a wall can exist as a field of color—how a field of color can exist as a curtain—how a curtain can exist as a signifier of theatricality.

Knots and Pulses 
When the Wind Comes Right Behind the Rain - Group Exhibition at Syracuse University 

October 21, 2019 - December 13, 2019

Rebecca Aloisio, Patti Capaldi, Jennifer Paige Cohen, Melinda Lascynski, Fabian Marcaccio, Paul O’Keefe, Bret Shirley, Sarah Sutton

Within the framework of luxury, conspicuous consumption and materialistic value systems, the artists in this exhibition collectively allude to displacement as a result late capitalism and the hostile climate that it nurtures—referencing the antagonistic relationship between capitalistic excess and the environment, the self and sense of place.

The Edge Effect at the Katonah Museum of Art
My painting, Deep Horizon is currently in the exhibition titled, The Edge Effect at the Katonah Museum of Art in Westchester, NY until 9/23. 

Photo credit: Margaret Fox

Photo credit: Margaret Fox

Photo credit: Margaret Fox


This summer I have been researching the current state of water- pirates, global trade, maritime history including the textile industry and its link to pollution (second biggest polluter only to petroleum) for a large scale painting that I am working on. I have been reading The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E Baptist which outlines connection between the textile industry in the north and slavery in the south along with some heavy duty reading on Thomas Cole's series of paintings The Course of the Empire and revisiting Moby Dick.  I am more specifically thinking about the complex history of capitalism, natural resources and their movement and extraction. Stay tuned... 

In progress oil painting, 48 x 60 inches

Waves of Pink

I have taken on another project this summer- transforming a 5 acre field into a native meadow. Designing this field is a lot like starting one of my paintings. I am picking native plants that are aggressive enough to survive and proliferate but that won't completely take over and then I have to let it all play out- similar to how I juggle hierarchy in my paintings.  

Invasive species such Canadian Thistle (below) and others I am trying to eradicate, create uniformity and prevent biodiversity in native habitats. Pretty pink flowers such as Dame's Rocket which was the first wave of pink this summer began in flower gardens and now wreaks havoc on the native ecosystem. 

When you let land be, it tells a story. In my field the story is one of aggressive uniformity.  It is interesting to think about how this extends to culture- and our evolutionary bias toward order, grids and 'taming' nature; yet this is no longer an effective survival instinct, nor does it even work. The traditional manicured lawn is terrible for the ecosystem. Aestheticizing nature backfires. In my paintings, built environments are structured like organic ecosystems on the edge of emergence and collapse. In my meadow, biodiversity, if it succeeds will create many stories and boundaries not just one big pink blob.