By Umer Nangiana
After nine months of research, practice and working in Qatar, two artists in Residence at the Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCUQ) are all set to showcase their work to public. An exhibition demonstrating the works of MFA Fellow Sage Lewis and BFA Fellow James McPherson will be held at HBKU Student Center Art Gallery on April 27.
Lewis, born in Waterville, Vermont, USA, holds an MFA in Painting and Drawing from The Ohio State University (OSU). Prior to her studies at OSU, Lewis lived in Portland, Maine for 12 years where she earned her BFA in Painting with an Art History minor from Maine College of Art.
Lewis is interested in the connections between material process and concept and works through drawing, sculpture, prints, and photography to translate images into multiple outcomes.
“Working through multiple formats of drawing, sculpture, prints, and photography allows me to translate an image into multiple outcomes. This distancing from the source incites questions of origin as I work to arrive at something unfamiliar,” says Lewis in her statement on her web portal.
“The subjects pictured throughout my work are paper sculptures. Loosely drawn from architecture, I designed and constructed the geometric pieces, the largest being about five feet, before crushing them flat in a printmaking press,” she adds, introducing her work.
She adds that the hard edges of her ruled and scored lines became crisscrossed with the jagged creases from the form collapsing on itself. Then, pulling the flattened forms back into three dimensions produced compelling objects to photograph and draw. In these resurrected structures she sees both architecture and ruins.
Lewis’s photo-based works use constructed paper forms as their subject matter in an effort to evoke an uncertain sense of space and establish a tactile relationship between drawing and the photograph.
While her current works utilise photographic processes, Lewis has often worked with layered printmaking techniques and hand-stitched thread on paper as well as thread and fabric wall installations.
“My attention to the surface of matte black carbon paper and the way its density is reverberated in silver gelatin paper, carbon-black toner, and charcoal— these are concerns that situate my work within a language of painting and drawing, surface and mark,” says Lewis.
The physicality of the image itself is paramount. The support, the picture plane as a malleable surface is as much a material to be worked with as anything applied to it, she says.
With dramatic shifts between pictorial space and surface space, Lewis aims to unsettle the complacency of a first look. The photographic presence asserts its veracity while material facts undermine it. She seeks to create images where the shapes of shadows and light are spatially convincing in both positive and negative versions, resisting a fixed orientation.
“I want the viewing experience to echo my inquiry whereby the more knowledge that may be gained through close observation, the more one’s sense of truth is unravelled by new and changing circumstances,” says the artist.
She has recently exhibited at the Marshall University in West Virginia, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Urban Arts Space at The Ohio State University.
She has held positions in arts administration and curation at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, the Maine Arts Commission, and most recently, the Portland Museum of Art. During this time, Lewis exhibited her work regionally and nationally.
She has also maintained a studio in Portland’s Artist Studio Building from 2005-2011 where she participated in frequent open studios and events with the Pickwick Independent Press.
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