Word Of Mouth (in progress), a series about women's health and reproductive rights

In the delicate interplay between botanical beauty and the socio-political landscape, my artistic exploration delves deep into the intertwined narratives of nature and women's reproductive rights. These paintings attempt to weave a tapestry that celebrates the resilience of both the natural world and the female experience, illuminating the often-overlooked parallels between the two.

Botanical motifs serve as the cornerstone of my artistic expression, offering a rich visual language through which to explore the complexities of reproductive rights. From the intricate symmetry of a flower's petals to the sinuous tendrils of a vine, I draw inspiration from the inherent vitality and transformative power of plant life. Through meticulous observation and meticulous rendering, I seek to elevate the often-dismissed beauty of botanical specimens, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound interconnectedness.

Community Voices: Project Rebound Art Installation

In cooperation with CSU - Stanislaus Department of Education Graduate Program, Community Equity Research Center (CERC) and Project Rebound, I was able to facilitate the design, implementation and installation of the Phoenix Sculpture in Project Rebound student lounge on campus.  Research, materials and support was funded by CERC, I was able to hire two student artists/assistants from the PR program to help research, build and install sculpture and support thesis research over a six month period via surveying, meetings and in depth interviews.  

Thesis: https://scholarworks.calstate.edu/concern/theses/s4655q644

https://www.csustan.edu/news/warriors-powerful-project-sheds-light-project-rebound-and-honors-formerly-incarcerated

MAKING A KILLING Series

I grew up moving from state park to state park in Appalachia, from a family that believed in the sanctuary of nature and its capacity to heal.  Natural forces have always been in my art, but have evolved over time.  After many travels I’ve taken a look at my childhood fascination with various flora and fauna and juxtaposed that with various opioids and street drugs – how the exploitation of resources in Appalachia and beyond paralleled that of people.  Opioids being a constant source of pain relief for loved ones, of coping, of addiction.  Focusing on plants and animals as symbols, conveying mutations, adaptations and put into an environment that is structured around what is left, what can adapt, mimicking what circumstances that people find themselves in as well.  This is a public health crisis intertwined with the intricacies of climate change.

I wanted to focus on the interplay humans have with the environment and the complex industries we create to help, heal, exploit and destroy one another. This series explores various natural habitats with pharmaceuticals derived from these environments which are ultimately synthesized to create opioids. Each animal and plant has a reference to the Sackler family, who has made their fortune off of opioids, specifically Oxycontin. The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of over 750,000 people since 1999 (Center for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/index.html).

I hope that the series will highlight the interconnectivity humans have with the environment and the things we consume for healing.  I also believe that this can yield catastrophic effects on humans and the environment if we do not honor ourselves and our surroundings. It is meant to show the beauty and the ugliness that is present in these circumstances.  I am hopeful that as we learn more about ourselves and our environment we can continue to address and work towards healing on all fronts.

I currently live in the Sierra Nevada foothills, after living in GA, PA, ID, VA, OR and WV.  I will always be a West Virginian in my heart, and head home to spend time with family every year.  I teach art in public school as well as teach for the Prison Arts Project.  My work can be found at: sarahannegraham.com and on Instagram at sarahthepainter. 


Life Cycles
A life cycle usually refers to an animal, plant or humans developmental changes that eventually result in the return to its starting state.  A life cycle breaks down the birth, life, death and rebirth of something into segmented stages.  This concept applies to many fields of study; psychosocial, economics and even software development.  

It also applies to the products we consume.  I decided to combine a product (i.e. trash) with a specific insect or animal to show the relationships each of these things life cycles have to one another and subsequently to humans.  Whether we choose to believe it or not, we are the stewards of the natural world, and are part of a larger web of life than what is immediately in front of us.  That is what makes the world wondrous but also bears a responsibility on our part.  Our comforts, costs and things – do they outweigh the price of the survival of one species we never see in our daily lives?

I chose to focus on depicting a few specific objects that are used for consumption and known to cause the greatest harm to various species and habitats. I wanted to show the relationships between these objects and various endangered species from ours skies to forests to oceans.  I used actual pharmaceuticals to allude to the role of these chemicals in our water and soil systems and their affect on the environment, as well as straws and cigarettes inserted into the paintings to further illustrate how this trash is intertwined, integrated and polluting our natural environments. 

 (According to the United Nations as of 2015, “the number of endangered species known to be affected by either entanglement or ingestion of plastics debris has doubled since 1997, from 267 to 557 species among all groups of wildlife.”)  Additionally, “of all marine species, 100,000 creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found. Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic. A plastic bag or bottle can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate.” – OceanCrusader.org

We have become accustomed to a “disposable” culture.  Not just in how we consume but also in how we think of others.  It is another symptom of a larger problem in how we view our relationships to all living (and non-living) things in our world.  As we enter into a 6th mass extinction globally, it is more important than ever that we do not turn our back on Mother Nature.

For more information:
Nat Geo article https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-animals-wildlife-impact-waste-pollution/
WWF https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-problem-with-plastic-in-nature-and-what-you-can-do-to-help

Nature journal – A quantitative analysis linking seabird mortality and marine debris ingestion https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36585-9
Center for Biological Diversity – Holocene Extinction https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/


About the Bucket Head Girls: 

The Bucket Head Girls current series explores the concept of escape.  Breaking free from confinements both mental and physical, Bucket Head Girl searches for a tribe and place, and in doing so, validation for the choices made that define her.  As expressed in last year’s artist’s statement, the bucket acts as a device to hide her from the “wider world” just enough for her to keep bumbling through it. Metaphorically it acts as a device to dull her senses and emotionally protect her from harm.  As she travels alongside other creatures, these things remain a part of her experience.

The “wider world” of late continues to be portrayed (somewhat accurately I might add) in a state of utter chaos and suffering, and this is on full display everywhere we look. The complexities of climate change in our backyard, shifting attitudes and beliefs in social and political spheres, continued revelations of misconduct by men in positions of power, and the denial of humanity to populations of people seeking refuge from the socioeconomic degradation of a failed state is happening around us; every day, with unrelenting reality.  The Bucket Head Girls represent witness to this, with uncertainty around how to fight against it; searching for peace, solidarity, and most of all escape.

But the world is also beautiful.  Remembering the beauty, especially in dark times, is important as a source of hope for a better future, and to help keep us fighting for what we love.  Inspired by travels to Japan, the Pacific Northwest and my native home of West Virginia, there are pieces of design inspired from Japanese Edo Period painting, flora and fauna and native animals in these works.  All convey representations of various different cultures and forms from the natural world, used in appreciation and in accordance with those cultures visual traditions.

BUCKET HEAD GIRLS -  2018

             The new works include 50 different Bucket Head Girl figures performing a lot of different acts: serving, nurturing children, cleaning, cooking, eating, bathing, playing music, bicycling while juggling, being caged, thinking, crossing the Delaware, burning at the stake, fainting, crying, running, catching butterflies, painting, roller skating, walking with a cane and a chair on their head­–a reference to Goya’s Los Caprichos–and others.

Many of these new works include figures that are juxtaposed together with overlapped underpaintings of various motifs, objects, and animals. After speaking with viewers at last year’s show, I realized that the works are often interpreted very differently from my original intentions: viewers’ own narrative for the work are created and I needed to explore this subject further.  I was thrilled by this reaction and wanted to make Bucket Head Girls that showed the scope of potential narratives.  If art can fulfill the role of calling up an issue–whether social, political, and/or something uniquely personal for a viewer–I am grateful to be a part of sparking such an experience.

As I began exploring this approach so many events in the broader world started to occur around the role of women in the workplace, in the home, in relationships, in motherhood, in politics and in religion. It gave me renewed purpose and expanded the concepts I wanted to portray behind the work.  In particular, a concept I wanted to address is the wage gap.  As a feminist, I believe women should receive equal compensation for the same job performed by a man.  I imagine that part of the wage gap (compared to men women are paid on average 80 cents on the dollar, women of color receive an average of 60 cents on the dollar) originates in how we think of the sexes, particularly in relationship to the overlapping professional and personal roles women play. Acknowledgement of the importance and integrity of all forms of work, be that work domestic or professional, is not only of vital importance to equal rights for women, but indeed for continued establishment of communities and families that can support themselves and one another in order to thrive. (National Women’s Law Center, Sept. 2017)

How we think of women’s roles as lesser than those of their male peers, coworkers, and partners, contributes to a larger endemic issue within our communities– domestic violence. This is something that I am thankful has received more attention and sparked conversation on a national stage.  Domestic violence permeates our daily lives; we all have a connection to it – through a friend, roommate, or family member or have experienced it firsthand.  Men as well as women experience domestic violence, as it is part of the cause of unhealthy relationships that stretch beyond a “bad breakup.”  When one experiences trauma as a result of domestic violence it can lead to lifelong psychological and physical effects.  Wearing that trauma–much like a bucket on your head which helps to control your senses, to act as armor and to provide just enough sensory information for you to survive–is rarely acknowledged in our daily lives and neither is the aftermath trauma causes as a person heals and attempts to build new relationships. 

My personal narratives for the work are expressed here, some of them convergent and divergent in concept.  Women are resilient and powerful.  Women are multifaceted. They are capable of anything and deserve to be respected, loved, and admired. I hope the Bucket Head Girls divine the promise of progress toward equal rights, and reminds us that we are all worthy of love.


BUCKET HEAD GIRL SERIES 2017

The bucket head girl image was derived from a photograph of a small child playing outside.  She put a pink, plastic bucket on her head, wore a purple princess dress and carried a bright yellow play bat.  I was struck by how funny, cute and powerful the image seemed.  I also thought it carried a variety of different interpretations, given the symbolism of a person with an object on their head that makes them temporarily blind, unable to speak or hear properly; and put there of their own volition.

Throughout the series the Bucket Head Girl encounters different tools (hammer, ax, gun) as well as different scenarios, some topical some fantasy.  Her bucket has become weathered, with holes and dents in it, some of those holes are self-inflicted from the tools she carries and others are a product of wear and tear.  This symbolizes our self-destructive nature, how we represent ourselves in various circumstances and what it means to purposefully render our senses powerless for the sake of survival. 

In addition, I added a saintly halo seen in Gothic Art depictions of saints to some of the Bucket Head Girls to make a correlation to self-sacrifice with that of self-destruction.  In popular culture, women are often shown as alluring by adhering to strict rules of beauty, socialization and gender roles, all of which can not only be harmful to physical wellbeing but can also erode the spirit. 

ROT: The Afterlife of Trees Exhibit - Corvallis, Oregon in January, and the World Forestry Center in May 2016.  Follow me on instagram at sarahthepainter.

Planet Tuolumne, a two person show with Zac Calbert will open December 2014 at the Ventana Gallery in Sonora, CA. The opening receptions will be held on Saturday, January 10th at 5pm.

River Reflections, Mokelumne River Arts Project will open in early 2015 and rotate throughout next Spring from Sutter Creek to Oakland, CA.  50 artists from many disciplines will be exhibiting works inspired from the Mokelumne.  Grand Prizes will be given out at the last show, for more details go to Amador Arts Council.
Here is a recent article about this exhbit:  http://blog.sfgate.com/inoakland/2015/02/17/mokelumne-art-exhibition-travels-to-oakland-to-share-rivers-beauty-and-raise-awareness-on-water-conservation/ 

Slice:A Juried Cross Section of Regional Art, Pence Gallery, Davis, CA.  June 29th - August 24th.  Opening Reception: Friday, July 11th, 6 - 9pm.

Sarah Anne Graham: TCAA Artist in Residence, Sonora, CA.  July 12th - September 12th.  Opening Reception: Saturday, July 12th, 5 - 8pm.

Standing With the Watershed show has moved to Groveland, CA. Opens March 15th. https://www.facebook.com/standingwiththewatershed

Work from the Rounds series will be in a group exhibition titled "The Consilience of Art and Science", Pence Gallery, Davis, CA. Show runs January 11th - March1, 2014. http://www.pencegallery.org/

Work about the Rim Fire and it's effects on the Tuolumne River watershed will be shown at an upcoming exhibit, "Standing with the Watershed", Sherwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA in December 2013. 

Work from Rounds: Inside and Out will be featured at the group exhibit titled "Gems II", at Benicia Arts in Benicia, CA in December 2013. http://artsbenicia.org/

Selected Artist in the Woods 2013 for the Stanislaus National Forest, an annual residency program in the Fall. Sarah was stationed in the Strawberry area, teaching oil painting in October. See the Trees portfolio for piece inspired from her stay up on Sonora Pass.

COLLECTION OF WRITING ON WORKS

In case anyone is interested, here is the speech I wrote for commencement next month, it was too radical :) I will be graduating with a Masters of Education, in Curriculum and Instruction and Ed Tech. I never thought I'd get this far in school. I am so grateful for all the support I've had to complete this degree while working over the last couple of years. Despite the current climate around higher education (given the rise of new tech and an ever changing job outlook), I am humbled by the fact that I was able to work and learn alongside so many teachers and students from all walks of life, and represent my chosen communities.
After over 9 years teaching art in public school I am looking to expand my teaching skills in other realms of education, while also making my art business official. I’ll miss the kids, my fellow teachers and staff but I know I’m making the right decision for myself and family. Even though I won't be in this classroom after June, I know that my love of this profession will carry me into other forms of artistic work, and I will forever be involved in providing art access to students from all walks of life. As I've said in another post, my pot is too small - time to replant. I'll continue building up lessons, experiences, presentations and video via my blog for any teachers/artists or art lovers. Additionally, thanks to CA Dept of Ed and Pearson for hiring me on contract to assess for CAL TPA Art for pre-service teachers this season.
Through training via NAEA, Chibitronics and with financial support from Front Porch Foundation, GATE students at elementary level are exploring building circuitry, lights, coding commands for them and applying their knowledge to the creation of a unique light painting. Used Love to Code Kits, developed by artist Jie Qi.
I’ve always been an outsider.  Comfortable looking but never engaging unless necessary. And I’m a hillbilly. An educated hillbilly is called a hill William as my father always says. I moved a lot growing up and I’ve moved a lot as an adult.  At one point my husband and I moved 11 times in 10 years. But I’ve seen a lot more slivers of the world this way and I’ve never regretted that.
As the first Blog entry on New Year's Eve of 2023, I thought I'd post my newly defended thesis abstract and link to paper to follow. I hope this research can serve as a evidence of the power of collaboration among many people, groups and institutions, and just how much the arts can be a catalyst for positive change in all facets of life. https://www.csustan.edu/news/warriors-powerful-project-sheds-light-project-rebound-and-honors-formerly-incarcerated
Group Presentation from NAEA 2023 Convention, San Antonio TX Sarah A Graham, Artist/Educator, BOFG Unified, CSU-Stan CERC/Project Rebound, CA Denise L. Greene, Director of Community Programs, Arts Students League of NY Sheila McGuire, Head of Student and Teacher Learning, Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN Leslie Burwell, NBCT Teacher/Arts Dept Chair, Chatham County Schools, NC Brett Henzig, Director of Programming, Artists Working in Education (AWE), WI (audio recording)
Draft art lesson using recycled materials, using the work of Louise Nevelson as a jumping off point to create 3D sculptures while learning about the waste cycle and associated community issues.
Being a teaching artist and site coordinator for William James Association, Prison Arts Project at local state prison prior to, during and post pandemic, until contract and subsequent funding was complete in August of 2022.
Tying together Paint Boxing event and Heart Weaving during COVID with elementary and middle school students to create an object of remembrance of community struggles during the pandemic.
SEL inspired lesson - very adaptable for all ages and mediums
SEL and The Arts ppt and Neurographic Art Lesson for Teachers
Sarah Graham/Tenaya School 6/4/21 SEL CoP Mini Grant – Review All School Field Day Activity - Paint Boxing (Inspired by Japanese artist USHIO SHINOHARA)
Applied for NAEA School for Art Leaders (twice!) and got in just as the pandemic was ramping up. It was an incredible experience in that you get to meet so many other art educators from all walks of life doing amazing things.
Given to Mental Health Coalition teachers at TCSOS, 2018/19
Short video of 3D printing into software via TinkerCad for teachers
Tenaya Elementary 5th graders did an art exchange with International School in Kiev, Ukraine (pre-pandemic, pre-conflict) Students exchanged artwork based on various themes ranging from nationality, history and folklore. Additionally, students were able to record questions via video and send back and forth with students and whole class to gain further info about one another's school, students and artwork.
Practiced art and body movements in the style of Heather Hansen, incorporating STEAM lesson on proportions of the body (looking at Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man) and applying charcoal medium to large scale works individually and in partners (upper elementary and middle school). Talked about grounding the body, breath, symmetry, significance of charcoal as a medium historically, etc... As part of STEAM PD for Teachers, collaborated with yoga/dance instructor to create art lesson for teachers to practice at Outdoor School.
Inspired by Andrea Anderson's Queens of the Mines Podcast and book, I created a series of local women from the Gold Rush Era. A small collection of these illustrations are hung in the General Store in Columbia Historic State Park, Columbia, CA.
Teaching paper marbling techniques, esp. suminagashi is a great way to practice hand eye coordination, color theory and lots of patience. Adding block printing to these unique papers creates one of a kind prints.

Statements

Word Of Mouth (in progress), a series about women's health and reproductive rights

In the delicate interplay between botanical beauty and the socio-political landscape, my artistic exploration delves deep into the intertwined narratives of nature and women's reproductive rights. These paintings attempt to weave a tapestry that celebrates the resilience of both the natural world and the female experience, illuminating the often-overlooked parallels between the two.

Botanical motifs serve as the cornerstone of my artistic expression, offering a rich visual language through which to explore the complexities of reproductive rights. From the intricate symmetry of a flower's petals to the sinuous tendrils of a vine, I draw inspiration from the inherent vitality and transformative power of plant life. Through meticulous observation and meticulous rendering, I seek to elevate the often-dismissed beauty of botanical specimens, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound interconnectedness.

Community Voices: Project Rebound Art Installation

In cooperation with CSU - Stanislaus Department of Education Graduate Program, Community Equity Research Center (CERC) and Project Rebound, I was able to facilitate the design, implementation and installation of the Phoenix Sculpture in Project Rebound student lounge on campus.  Research, materials and support was funded by CERC, I was able to hire two student artists/assistants from the PR program to help research, build and install sculpture and support thesis research over a six month period via surveying, meetings and in depth interviews.  

Thesis: https://scholarworks.calstate.edu/concern/theses/s4655q644

https://www.csustan.edu/news/warriors-powerful-project-sheds-light-project-rebound-and-honors-formerly-incarcerated

MAKING A KILLING Series

I grew up moving from state park to state park in Appalachia, from a family that believed in the sanctuary of nature and its capacity to heal.  Natural forces have always been in my art, but have evolved over time.  After many travels I’ve taken a look at my childhood fascination with various flora and fauna and juxtaposed that with various opioids and street drugs – how the exploitation of resources in Appalachia and beyond paralleled that of people.  Opioids being a constant source of pain relief for loved ones, of coping, of addiction.  Focusing on plants and animals as symbols, conveying mutations, adaptations and put into an environment that is structured around what is left, what can adapt, mimicking what circumstances that people find themselves in as well.  This is a public health crisis intertwined with the intricacies of climate change.

I wanted to focus on the interplay humans have with the environment and the complex industries we create to help, heal, exploit and destroy one another. This series explores various natural habitats with pharmaceuticals derived from these environments which are ultimately synthesized to create opioids. Each animal and plant has a reference to the Sackler family, who has made their fortune off of opioids, specifically Oxycontin. The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of over 750,000 people since 1999 (Center for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/index.html).

I hope that the series will highlight the interconnectivity humans have with the environment and the things we consume for healing.  I also believe that this can yield catastrophic effects on humans and the environment if we do not honor ourselves and our surroundings. It is meant to show the beauty and the ugliness that is present in these circumstances.  I am hopeful that as we learn more about ourselves and our environment we can continue to address and work towards healing on all fronts.

I currently live in the Sierra Nevada foothills, after living in GA, PA, ID, VA, OR and WV.  I will always be a West Virginian in my heart, and head home to spend time with family every year.  I teach art in public school as well as teach for the Prison Arts Project.  My work can be found at: sarahannegraham.com and on Instagram at sarahthepainter. 


Life Cycles
A life cycle usually refers to an animal, plant or humans developmental changes that eventually result in the return to its starting state.  A life cycle breaks down the birth, life, death and rebirth of something into segmented stages.  This concept applies to many fields of study; psychosocial, economics and even software development.  

It also applies to the products we consume.  I decided to combine a product (i.e. trash) with a specific insect or animal to show the relationships each of these things life cycles have to one another and subsequently to humans.  Whether we choose to believe it or not, we are the stewards of the natural world, and are part of a larger web of life than what is immediately in front of us.  That is what makes the world wondrous but also bears a responsibility on our part.  Our comforts, costs and things – do they outweigh the price of the survival of one species we never see in our daily lives?

I chose to focus on depicting a few specific objects that are used for consumption and known to cause the greatest harm to various species and habitats. I wanted to show the relationships between these objects and various endangered species from ours skies to forests to oceans.  I used actual pharmaceuticals to allude to the role of these chemicals in our water and soil systems and their affect on the environment, as well as straws and cigarettes inserted into the paintings to further illustrate how this trash is intertwined, integrated and polluting our natural environments. 

 (According to the United Nations as of 2015, “the number of endangered species known to be affected by either entanglement or ingestion of plastics debris has doubled since 1997, from 267 to 557 species among all groups of wildlife.”)  Additionally, “of all marine species, 100,000 creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found. Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic. A plastic bag or bottle can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate.” – OceanCrusader.org

We have become accustomed to a “disposable” culture.  Not just in how we consume but also in how we think of others.  It is another symptom of a larger problem in how we view our relationships to all living (and non-living) things in our world.  As we enter into a 6th mass extinction globally, it is more important than ever that we do not turn our back on Mother Nature.

For more information:
Nat Geo article https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-animals-wildlife-impact-waste-pollution/
WWF https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-problem-with-plastic-in-nature-and-what-you-can-do-to-help

Nature journal – A quantitative analysis linking seabird mortality and marine debris ingestion https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36585-9
Center for Biological Diversity – Holocene Extinction https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/


About the Bucket Head Girls: 

The Bucket Head Girls current series explores the concept of escape.  Breaking free from confinements both mental and physical, Bucket Head Girl searches for a tribe and place, and in doing so, validation for the choices made that define her.  As expressed in last year’s artist’s statement, the bucket acts as a device to hide her from the “wider world” just enough for her to keep bumbling through it. Metaphorically it acts as a device to dull her senses and emotionally protect her from harm.  As she travels alongside other creatures, these things remain a part of her experience.

The “wider world” of late continues to be portrayed (somewhat accurately I might add) in a state of utter chaos and suffering, and this is on full display everywhere we look. The complexities of climate change in our backyard, shifting attitudes and beliefs in social and political spheres, continued revelations of misconduct by men in positions of power, and the denial of humanity to populations of people seeking refuge from the socioeconomic degradation of a failed state is happening around us; every day, with unrelenting reality.  The Bucket Head Girls represent witness to this, with uncertainty around how to fight against it; searching for peace, solidarity, and most of all escape.

But the world is also beautiful.  Remembering the beauty, especially in dark times, is important as a source of hope for a better future, and to help keep us fighting for what we love.  Inspired by travels to Japan, the Pacific Northwest and my native home of West Virginia, there are pieces of design inspired from Japanese Edo Period painting, flora and fauna and native animals in these works.  All convey representations of various different cultures and forms from the natural world, used in appreciation and in accordance with those cultures visual traditions.

BUCKET HEAD GIRLS -  2018

             The new works include 50 different Bucket Head Girl figures performing a lot of different acts: serving, nurturing children, cleaning, cooking, eating, bathing, playing music, bicycling while juggling, being caged, thinking, crossing the Delaware, burning at the stake, fainting, crying, running, catching butterflies, painting, roller skating, walking with a cane and a chair on their head­–a reference to Goya’s Los Caprichos–and others.

Many of these new works include figures that are juxtaposed together with overlapped underpaintings of various motifs, objects, and animals. After speaking with viewers at last year’s show, I realized that the works are often interpreted very differently from my original intentions: viewers’ own narrative for the work are created and I needed to explore this subject further.  I was thrilled by this reaction and wanted to make Bucket Head Girls that showed the scope of potential narratives.  If art can fulfill the role of calling up an issue–whether social, political, and/or something uniquely personal for a viewer–I am grateful to be a part of sparking such an experience.

As I began exploring this approach so many events in the broader world started to occur around the role of women in the workplace, in the home, in relationships, in motherhood, in politics and in religion. It gave me renewed purpose and expanded the concepts I wanted to portray behind the work.  In particular, a concept I wanted to address is the wage gap.  As a feminist, I believe women should receive equal compensation for the same job performed by a man.  I imagine that part of the wage gap (compared to men women are paid on average 80 cents on the dollar, women of color receive an average of 60 cents on the dollar) originates in how we think of the sexes, particularly in relationship to the overlapping professional and personal roles women play. Acknowledgement of the importance and integrity of all forms of work, be that work domestic or professional, is not only of vital importance to equal rights for women, but indeed for continued establishment of communities and families that can support themselves and one another in order to thrive. (National Women’s Law Center, Sept. 2017)

How we think of women’s roles as lesser than those of their male peers, coworkers, and partners, contributes to a larger endemic issue within our communities– domestic violence. This is something that I am thankful has received more attention and sparked conversation on a national stage.  Domestic violence permeates our daily lives; we all have a connection to it – through a friend, roommate, or family member or have experienced it firsthand.  Men as well as women experience domestic violence, as it is part of the cause of unhealthy relationships that stretch beyond a “bad breakup.”  When one experiences trauma as a result of domestic violence it can lead to lifelong psychological and physical effects.  Wearing that trauma–much like a bucket on your head which helps to control your senses, to act as armor and to provide just enough sensory information for you to survive–is rarely acknowledged in our daily lives and neither is the aftermath trauma causes as a person heals and attempts to build new relationships. 

My personal narratives for the work are expressed here, some of them convergent and divergent in concept.  Women are resilient and powerful.  Women are multifaceted. They are capable of anything and deserve to be respected, loved, and admired. I hope the Bucket Head Girls divine the promise of progress toward equal rights, and reminds us that we are all worthy of love.


BUCKET HEAD GIRL SERIES 2017

The bucket head girl image was derived from a photograph of a small child playing outside.  She put a pink, plastic bucket on her head, wore a purple princess dress and carried a bright yellow play bat.  I was struck by how funny, cute and powerful the image seemed.  I also thought it carried a variety of different interpretations, given the symbolism of a person with an object on their head that makes them temporarily blind, unable to speak or hear properly; and put there of their own volition.

Throughout the series the Bucket Head Girl encounters different tools (hammer, ax, gun) as well as different scenarios, some topical some fantasy.  Her bucket has become weathered, with holes and dents in it, some of those holes are self-inflicted from the tools she carries and others are a product of wear and tear.  This symbolizes our self-destructive nature, how we represent ourselves in various circumstances and what it means to purposefully render our senses powerless for the sake of survival. 

In addition, I added a saintly halo seen in Gothic Art depictions of saints to some of the Bucket Head Girls to make a correlation to self-sacrifice with that of self-destruction.  In popular culture, women are often shown as alluring by adhering to strict rules of beauty, socialization and gender roles, all of which can not only be harmful to physical wellbeing but can also erode the spirit. 

ROT: The Afterlife of Trees Exhibit - Corvallis, Oregon in January, and the World Forestry Center in May 2016.  Follow me on instagram at sarahthepainter.

Planet Tuolumne, a two person show with Zac Calbert will open December 2014 at the Ventana Gallery in Sonora, CA. The opening receptions will be held on Saturday, January 10th at 5pm.

River Reflections, Mokelumne River Arts Project will open in early 2015 and rotate throughout next Spring from Sutter Creek to Oakland, CA.  50 artists from many disciplines will be exhibiting works inspired from the Mokelumne.  Grand Prizes will be given out at the last show, for more details go to Amador Arts Council.
Here is a recent article about this exhbit:  http://blog.sfgate.com/inoakland/2015/02/17/mokelumne-art-exhibition-travels-to-oakland-to-share-rivers-beauty-and-raise-awareness-on-water-conservation/ 

Slice:A Juried Cross Section of Regional Art, Pence Gallery, Davis, CA.  June 29th - August 24th.  Opening Reception: Friday, July 11th, 6 - 9pm.

Sarah Anne Graham: TCAA Artist in Residence, Sonora, CA.  July 12th - September 12th.  Opening Reception: Saturday, July 12th, 5 - 8pm.

Standing With the Watershed show has moved to Groveland, CA. Opens March 15th. https://www.facebook.com/standingwiththewatershed

Work from the Rounds series will be in a group exhibition titled "The Consilience of Art and Science", Pence Gallery, Davis, CA. Show runs January 11th - March1, 2014. http://www.pencegallery.org/

Work about the Rim Fire and it's effects on the Tuolumne River watershed will be shown at an upcoming exhibit, "Standing with the Watershed", Sherwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA in December 2013. 

Work from Rounds: Inside and Out will be featured at the group exhibit titled "Gems II", at Benicia Arts in Benicia, CA in December 2013. http://artsbenicia.org/

Selected Artist in the Woods 2013 for the Stanislaus National Forest, an annual residency program in the Fall. Sarah was stationed in the Strawberry area, teaching oil painting in October. See the Trees portfolio for piece inspired from her stay up on Sonora Pass.