Sarah Canfield: MVA Open Studios

Sarah Canfield, photograph courtesy of James Horton

Manufacturers Village Artist Studios, located in an 1880’s historic industrial complex at 356 Glenwood Avenue in East Orange, NJ, will feature the work of over 60 different artists at its annual open studios weekend, Friday 10/15 (VIP Preview) and Saturday thru Sunday from 11-5, 10/16 and 10/17.

Sarah Canfield is a multidisciplinary artist working in painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture. Canfield has exhibited widely in galleries and museums, including her recent inclusion in the Personal Landscapes exhibition at the Montclair Art Museum and the 2020 New Jersey Arts Annual at the Morris Museum as well as a solo exhibition at the Visual Art Center of New Jersey. Additional exhibition venues have included the Pennsylvania State Museum, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Noyes Museum, and the Google corporate offices. She has received project grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, has given guest lectures at Pratt Institute and she is an instructor at the Montclair Art Museum. Her art has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times. She graduated with a BFA, cum laude, from Alfred University.

Tell me about yourself and your art.

My current work is a hybrid of photography, painting, mixed media and sculptural constructions. Still life painting and photography have been catalysts in the development of my work over many years. The arrangements that I create with wires and circuit boards are now a format to merge both my photorealistic and abstract imagery. I discovered my fascination with transparency and visual illusions by accident while experimenting with image transfers in my studio. Toggling back and forth between digital and analog processes allows me to balance the physicality of my traditional materials with the innovations of digital media.

What will we see in your studio?

I’m excited to be debuting work from my latest series called “Two and a Half Dimensions”. These pieces are backlit, three dimensional constructions that stack layered, transparent images to create an illusion of deep space. Each piece is a hybrid of photography and painting techniques dealing with the tension between technology and nature. The imagery for this series originally began with still life photographs of various computer parts that I embedded in ice. These abstracted images lead me to synthesize my photography and painting practices to capture these frozen moments in time. I am interested in engaging the viewer with an experience of ambiguity where the images and media become difficult to identify. They are at once, photorealistic and abstract, and simultaneously painted, photographed and constructed. The in person viewing is crucial to fully experience the detail and illusion of depth in each piece, so I look forward to sharing and dialoging with visitors around their experience with this work in the studio.

I will also be showing works in pastel and mixed media that continue to investigate the intrusion of technology into the natural world. The subtle, often subconscious influences of our digital culture propel me to generate new work addressing these themes. To me, technology offers innovation and progress while simultaneously presenting serious concerns around issues such as privacy and the environment. This feeling of ambivalence motivates me to dig deeper into these themes through my art.

Neon Remix, 2020, transparent pigment prints on plexiglass in backlit shadow box, 18”x12”x6”

Valve, 2019, transparent pigment prints on plexiglass in backlit shadow box, 18”x24”x11”

Elekta Infinity, 2020, 48”x36”, mixed media on canvas