The soft glow from an old sodium lamp slowly filters through the muggy haze of a hot summer night in New Orleans. The music from inside spills out a little when the door opens for a cigarette break. There's no other reason to be outside in this heat. At BJ's bar in the Bywater, a new story is about to unfold inside.
The ancient Celts described the windswept, Irish moors as “thin places.” It was in these places they believed that the distance between the physical and spiritual world became shorter. To stand in a thin place, a person had the ability to touch the edge of the transcendent. These places were not for comfort, but rather for finding meaning through reflection. In my work I try to capture the thin places in my own life.
I am very interested in the abstract and emotive qualities of the sky and how they work in conjuncture with the overall tone of my work. While some subjects lend themselves to artists to paint what they see, the landscape allows me to paint what I am in. This can be both a physical or emotional space, and through the process of painting, my own internal landscape is conveyed.
My subject allows me to feel small in this world, by letting me put myself in the vast spaces that I create. It is only through painting the enormity of what surrounds me, that I feel and reconcile its weight.
Sarah Nelson is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Bywater neighborhood.NEW ORLEANS
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