Talley Dunn Gallery
April 15 – May 27, 2023
This exhibition features works from various phases in my life – all inspired by where I feel my home is, how I understand the concept of home and where I find it. I’ve always tried to use my paintings as a way to honor my personal history in the Midwest, but over time, it is becoming clearer to me why and how I relate to my home. I now realize that while creating these paintings initially was a way for me to process the homesickness I felt after leaving my childhood hometown to pursue an MFA degree in the urban setting of Dallas/Fort Worth, I now create them as a sort of souvenir of the places I left and the structures and things I knew most intimately. Even though my job as an art professor eventually brought me back to my home region, I’ve had to come to grips with the realization that “home” is now someplace I don’t fully recognize.
Moving to Texas to pursue my education created geographical distance between the place where I was located and my home. That, plus the distance created by time, has made me aware of my new role as a visitor. My pride and passion for the rural Midwest remains as strong as it ever was, but now that comes through in my paintings like a witness’ perspective.
Each time I return home to visit family, I notice more and more store fronts are empty along our Main Street or see that important landmarks have fallen into disrepair or are completely gone. The rate of entropy among places that once seemed so grand and central to my town is startling.
I’m aware of how, over time, ways of life shape and define people and the places in which they live. Making these paintings helps me consider whether disappearance can be meaningful and if so, in what way it’s meaningful for my home community and for myself. I’m considering where I’ll find “home” again and where I can “go back” to.
All places acquire layers of history. This specific place is grounding to me, personally, and I realize how significantly it shaped my identity. I’m hopeful that the shift I’m observing in my hometown is a cycle that has occurred before in one way or another. Maybe it looks different to a current resident than to a visitor.
Sarah Williams, 2023
Sarah Williams was raised in Brookfield, Missouri, a rural Midwestern town. These roots have influenced her representations of small towns and vernacular architecture. Her intimate, tightly-painted works often portray buildings such as gas stations, bungalows and the environments surrounding these structures. These tableaux of American life, while unremarkable in themselves, are elevated by Williams’ adept handling of light and mood. Through her approach, the everyday becomes a fascinating enigma. After earning a BFA from William Woods University in Missouri, Williams completed her MFA in Drawing and Painting at the University of North Texas in 2009. She now serves as Professor of Painting at Missouri State University in Springfield.
Williams’s artwork has been shown in institutions throughout the United States, including solo exhibitions at Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, Wyoming; the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas; Galveston Arts Center, Galveston, Texas; and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri. Her work is included in numerous institutional collections including the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas; Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas; Grace Museum, Abilene, Texas; Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, Washington; Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, Wyoming; Old Jail Art Center, Albany, Texas; University of North Texas, Denton, Texas; and William Woods University, Fulton, Missouri.