Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sara Winters: Rituals

Sara Winters (nee Betsy) is a relatively new artist on the scene. She illustrates in the gaming industry, and although proficient with digital painting, the girl can paint traditionally like an old hand. Recently established as a coordinator for the local salon-styled artist cafe The Conservatory, she runs their life drawing sessions and is often among the packed house of artists, drawing and painting to her hearts content.
"Innocence - I", oil on board
Sara and Cynthia Sheppard are close friends and it seemed a no-brainer to have them come up with a two-woman show. They chose the theme of "rituals" and went to work on a series of personal pieces in traditional medium for this show. What emerged from both is a body of work that is dark, mysterious, and in many ways deeply mythological in terms of the feminine mystique.

For Sara, she chose the path of the ritual of the hidden. Her model is nude, exposed, and raw, with nothing but a white veil and a silver necklace. The figure is clearly struggling internally, her body and face twisting, searching, and although she does address the viewer, the viewer is more like a voyeur in her transformation. We are only given hints of the narrative, leaving us to figure out what is happening as the series of images play out before us.
"Escape - V", oil on board
Sara played out her series much like a storyboard, but deliberately leaves out conclusive connectors. We are left to our own devices of imagination, which plays out as either redemption or resolve. The veil represents that which is tucked away from the human ego, forcing us (or perhaps the figure) to seek out the truth of our existence, be it ugly or liberating. Much like the tarot's High Priestess (who sits in front of the veil of truth), there is a mythological thread that runs underneath Sara's work, an esoteric and magical reality that we often ignore in our everyday existence. If we could only see what is really behind the veil, we can see the real truth of ourselves.
Possession, graphite on paper
Sara is clearly a talented and skilled painter and her drawing skills are top notch. In that regard, she sits comfortably with many other skilled painters I come across. What pulls her ahead is her use of tension in her work, and her fearlessness of addressing the part of the feminine experience that isn't exactly a beautiful thing. It's dark without being overly literal, and there is a slice of hope in the darkness, the possibility of release. This kind of narrative is difficult to achieve, especially for a young artist. Sara nails it out of the gate.

"Rituals" opens Saturday, May 14th and runs through June 4th. Sara will be in attendance at the opening, along with Cynthia Sheppard. The online catalog goes live the evening of May 14th.


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