Reality and Abstraction

Sarah Canfield is an artist whose work will stop you in your tracks. She works in many different media, and often combines them together with stop in your tracks results. During a visit to her West Orange studio she said that: “My imagery begins with still life photographs of electronics such as computer power supplies and circuit boards that I embed in ice. I then use combinations of painting and photography to create works in oil, soft pastel, mixed media and sculpture. Some of my artwork is created entirely in soft pastel on paper, and other pieces are a hybrid of oil and acrylic paint merged with elements from my digital collages and photographs that I transfer by hand to canvas or wood panels. Toggling back and forth between digital and analog techniques allows me to balance the unique, handmade qualities of painting with the innovations of digital media.” Her works takes you on a trip which is a once a high-tech vision and an abstract dreamscape. In her art you witness the roaring contrast of hyper-realism and pure abstraction. Describing her sculptures, she says: “I stack layered, transparent images mounted to plexiglass that creates an illusion of deep space. The depth of these works speaks to how deeply embedded technology is in our lives and reflects my ongoing interest in the conflict between the technological, or manmade, and the organic quality of the natural world.”


In her piece “Into The Machine”, mixed media on canvas, the viewer sees random parts from the interior of a computer frozen in ice, contrasted with abstract painting that almost feels like interior of our own bodies. We are so physically unlike the computers that we use daily, and yet, they are in their way, part of us. As we look at “Wired”, a soft pastel drawing on paper, we are again confronted with the contrast of computer pieces, frozen in ice. This time drawn entirely by the artist.


And again, Canfield forces us to confront an ongoing contrast in our lives, and does so by capturing our attention with a pastel drawing that so beautiful, it defies us to look away. Finally in “Remix”, a dimensional work wherein she has layered transparent images in sequence, and placed them in a box lighting them from behind so that the images are in different contrast to each other depending on what angle you view them from. It’s both a flat work, and a sculpture at the same time further echoing her message about extreme contrasts in our world. Regardless of the specific medium of any given piece of hers you’re looking at, it has a resounding and poignant message, and will capture your attention by it’s own sheer beauty.


You may very well have never seen anything like the work of Sarah Canfield. And you definitely should. See more when you visit her website or Instagram


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