Sara Willadsen invited me to write the forward to the catalog that accompanies her exhibition, “Boundaries:New Work by Sara Willadsen” at Frank Juarez Gallery, September 8 – October 20, 2018. The catalog can be purchased HERE.

Their Charm Awaken

“…they make the form more exactly, definitely, and completely intuitible, and besides their charm awaken and fix our attention on the object itself.”

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment

Sara Willadsen abstracts her surroundings and renders her findings in painting; that is to say, she takes apart the world around her and puts it back together on canvas. In Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant argues that we experience art as either object or play. The 18th century German philosopher writes about how objects dance and pantomime in space and how the purity of those objects is not diminished by embellishment, rather marks and brush strokes add to the viewer’s experience. In the case of Willadsen’s paintings, the manner in which she rebuilds her surroundings in a painting is the source of its power. In earlier work, like the 2015 painting Cabanon, laser cut paper floats in space demarked with ink, gouache, and acrylic and embellished with color pencil and gel pen. Cabanon is an abstract fantasia. The world is exploded and the artist paused time before all the elements could return to order. The viewer is left in a state of suspended animation that feels equally a moment in time and like infinity.

Willadsen professes a dedicated interest in aesthetics and visual language. In this new body of work, her focus moves from the creation of a complete scene where the objects are in active play with one another and proposes an investigation of the objects themselves. Stated another way, Willadsen shows us how the sausage is made. She asks the viewer to consider individual fragments as works themselves. Her process is informed by collage, a technique that allows her to quickly harness the general chaos of the creative process and get the ideas down. From there, Willadsen organizes and edits in a way that brings control and discipline to her work.

As viewers, Willadsen’s work offers us a chance to reflect on the chaos in our own life. The kids need breakfast; the dog needs a walk; breaking news is coming through the television; the phone rings and an issue at the office has come up. An urgent reply is needed. A buzz reminds us. A chirp alerts us. A billboard on our commute recalls a childhood memory. Oh, right. It’s your sister’s birthday. Our lives are full of fragments, bits of data that come at us like a fat laser. What if we could pause time and investigate each of these, to fix our attention to all this information, and come to love what each of these things represent: family, work, society, our interconnectedness? Would charm awaken to this world we live in?


About the Artist

Sara Willadsen was born in Sheboygan, WI in 1987. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Northern Illinois University in 2014 and her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Graphic Arts from Lakeland University in 2010. Working mainly with paint and various collage elements, Willadsen’s work explores concepts of abstract spaces and objects guided by her surroundings. She has had work featured in New American Paintings and shows frequently in regional and national exhibitions. She is currently works as a visual artist and graphic designer Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Willadsen is represented by Frank Juarez Gallery.

About the Frank Juarez Gallery

The Frank Juarez Gallery is committed to supporting artists working in painting, photography, sculpture, video, installation, and mixed media works. We aim to create an accessible, educational, and engaging exhibition space for our artists, audience, and community. The Frank Juarez Gallery exhibits and supports the works of artists who value innovation, technical discipline and artistic excellence in their chosen medium. WEBSITE

Image (top):
by Sara Willadsen
laser cut paper, color pencil, gel pen, found materials, ink, gouache, acrylic on paper

Image (center):
Same Pace 2
by Sara Willadsen
handmade paper, ink, graphite, acrylic, found materials on paper

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