Artist Sarah Sanford loves exploring the physical nature of light. She has been photographing light for more than a decade, capturing its movement and reflective ways. Beginning Friday, Jan. 27, the Steckline Gallery at Newman University will be a temporary home for many of her prints during her show, “Lightfast.”
Sanford’s love of art started at an early age. She was inspired by the images and artwork in her father’s Journal of American Medical Association magazines, often times learning all she could about the artwork and artist featured on the covers.
She studied in a joint program through the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University and earned her bachelor of science degree in 1996 before teaching art for several years. She then moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she studied printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art and earned her master of fine arts degree in 2003.
While silkscreen and digital photography are her primary media, they aren’t Sanford’s only interest. She also dabbles in mixed media, recycling old unfinished prints to create new collages. She enjoys other forms of artwork, too. “One of my favorite processes I learned in art school was making plaster etchings,” Sanford said. “I love the look and feel of working with plaster and the effect of creating the more sculptural tablet-like forms to embed a printed image. At some point, I would like to go back to working with that material again.”
Upon learning about the Steckline Gallery at Newman from family members who are prominent Wichita artists, she contacted Director of Visual Arts Mary Werner about including a show in the gallery’s schedule.
“Lightfast” will include a combination of her photographs of light projections with the process of photo-silkscreen to create multiple print series on various paper surfaces and film. The pieces in the show have been produced on a delicate and fragile paper. “The intention is to highlight the elusive, fleeting moments of light and its inherent transient nature,” said Sanford.
Some of the pieces use prints on film layered with plexiglass, which is a new method for Sanford. She said, “The result has the illusion of looking through a portal into mysterious landscapes.”
Sanford and her family are surrounded by the mountains of Santa Cruz, Calif., in the home where they live, and she says her love of nature has inspired much of the work in the show, working its way into her pieces.
She is most excited about her installation, “Agenda,” which is a series of 30 screenprints inspired by a find at an antique store she visited in Lacoste, France – an old book/ledger dated from 1917. “I immediately fell in love with its aged pages and beautifully written script, and knew I wanted to create a piece with it,” she said.
Sanford is looking forward to the opening on Final Friday, Jan. 27, and meeting many of the students and faculty at Newman. As for the show, she hopes the audience will connect with her work on some level. “As a printmaker, I think in layers, which means the ideas behind the works are layered as well,” she said. “There is an element of ambiguity to my work, which is meant to engage the viewer longer, and on their own terms. I want them to know that there is no one singular interpretation of the work.”
The Final Friday opening will be from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition continues through Feb. 17. An “Art for Lunch” presentation by the artist will be held Tuesday, Jan. 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery. For more information about the show, contact Mary Werner at 316-942-4291, ext. 2199 or [email protected].