SARAH McKENZIE | ARTIST STATEMENT
For a number of years after graduate school, I painted aerial views of suburban sprawl. Then, in 2005, I started zooming in, to focus on individual tract homes and commercial structures captured in a state of partial construction. Those works, made primarily between 2005 and 2010, explore the building process as a metaphor for the activity of painting. I am interested in the connection between the construction of an architectural structure from raw materials (lumber, steel, concrete) and the construction of a picture from raw materials (paint, canvas, wood).
Since 2011, I have shifted my focus to images of windows. I have painted minimalist (non)views seen through generic hotel room windows, and—more recently—the broken or boarded window grids of an abandoned factory. These new paintings are more subdued in mood than my earlier work and convey a sense of absence and longing. The windows are liminal zones, where one might pass from one space to another, but a curtain, screen, or reflective surface interferes, holding the viewer back.
With their emphasis on geometry, pattern, and gesture, all my paintings hover in a zone between representation and abstraction. I frequently play with the materiality of paint, applying both oils and acrylics to a single canvas in any number of incongruent ways and juxtaposing various painting “styles,” in order to undermine the unity of the final image. My work often appears photo-realistic when seen in reproduction, but–seen in person–the painted surface asserts itself forcefully, and the viewer is able to dissect the process by which the image was made. This is important to me. I care deeply about making paintings–physical objects with which the viewer will have a direct, visceral relationship and response.