In my installations, I explore how different materials evoke a range of concepts and experiences. The weight of wood aligns with notions of groundedness, stability, and place. The lightness and clarity of reflected surfaces illuminate the past, present, and future, simultaneously. I am also interested in the strength and precariousness of string binding and holding, and the potential for it all to unravel. Often I make drawings and paintings alongside the installations; they provide another, sometimes more direct platform that creates a dialogue among the mediums.
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I fluctuate between small, tangible, visual influences and deeper inspiration. The other day, a crack in the concrete, and the shifting of the earth below, implanted in my mind and aligned with some of my recent paintings where I had pushed away the surface to show the history beneath and its impact on that surface. I have learned to trust process and honor instinct, to respond to patterns and adjust to new environments.
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In all my work, I am thinking about the complexity of time, personal history, excavation of the past, the power of intention and will, collective change, and the force and ability of nature and human in environmental, physical, and psychological shifts. Lately I have been interested in the idea of time-binding, the notion of preserving memories and recording experience for the use of future generations. The elements of weight, tension, strength, and reflection in my work address a sense of place and home, of fears and optimism and resilience.
In Passage, old wood from the land on which Artist Circle Fine Art is situated was given a new life. These 13 planks of wood hanging from long steel cords represent a fence or wall, a sort of barrier, but floating, not anchored, with some planks pulled back as if they are flying away—moving to create space, but also departing. The viewer is first presented with the surface of old wood, then sees the reflective surface after coming around to the other side. The vinyl that covers the textured surface is meant to reflect the viewer, the interior, and the light. It also transforms the wood and becomes a mirror of the past or the future. The installation and the drawings together helped me process my own connection to place and home. The work is meant to give people a sense of the unknown and of instability. Though it is securely held and anchored with steel wire, it looks as if it could fall forward like a pendulum.
In Throwing Light, I installed chrome vinyl on the outside of the windows and glass door of Metro Micro Gallery in Arlington, Virginia. The vinyl is hand-cut in the pattern of light reflecting on a lake’s surface—an image taken from a family photograph of Loch Sheldrake in New York. The main viewing position is on the outside of the gallery, so that the inside is seen through the vinyl’s cut-out pattern. Inside, a neon-pink fluorescent light is installed on the floor beneath the windows, filling the space with a warm glow. As viewers stand in front of the windows, they can see their reflections, the cut pattern, and the toned fluorescent light inside all at once.
The overlapping of inward and outward experience in Throwing Light can create a fabricated environment for self-reflection. The surface of a calm lake with gentle waves, and the way it reflects the sky and its surroundings, is one of the most peaceful things that I experience. The surface on the water presents a poignant delineation between above and below. This dichotomy extends to inner and outer experience and also aligns with the potential of intention.
Metro Micro Gallery (founded by Barbara Januszkiewicz) is built upon the notion of paying it forward, of working together, of doing good in this world. Throwing Light suggests positivity as a catalyst for change and growth with the effort on the individual and the collective. The sometimes private space of a gallery is made public here. The viewer does not need to enter the space in order to “see” the work, but merely needs to be walking by and take a moment to look.
About the Artist
Sarah Hardesty’s drawings, paintings, and installations have been included in numerous exhibitions including VisArts in Rockville, Maryland; Metro Micro Gallery in Arlington, Virginia; ISE Cultural Foundation and Davidson Contemporary in New York City; MPG Gallery in Boston; Wheaton College, Massachusetts; and the Tucson Museum of Art and MOCA Tucson in Arizona. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Wassaic Project, the Carriage House at Islip Art Museum, Santa Fe Art Institute, and Vermont Studio Center. Grants include the Joan Mitchell Foundation, a Leon Levy Award, and a Mednick Fellowship. She received her MFA in painting from the University of Arizona in 2005, and her BS in studio art from Skidmore College in 1998. Born in Strong, Maine, and currently living in the Washington, D.C. area, she is an assistant professor of art at Marymount University.
Find more of Sarah’s work at www.sarahhardesty.com.
Header photo from The Impact of Optimism (2012), by Sarah Hardesty.