Art & Art History

Sewanee: The University of the South

Sarah Grace Pendergrass: Art Honors Exhibition and Talk

Carlos Gallery, Nabit Building

Fri, April 05, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Motile (detail). 2013. SARAH GRACE PENDERGRASS. oil on canvas. 6 x 6 ft.
Motile (detail). 2013. SARAH GRACE PENDERGRASS. oil on canvas. 6 x 6 ft.
Artist web site
Sarah Grace Pendergrass, a native of Memphis, TN, is a Sewanee senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in both Studio Art and Art History. This dual course of study has deeply enriched both her studio practice and her perspective on the works of other artists throughout history. Having remained close to home all of her life, she spent the fall of 2011 studying in Cortona, Italy. Not only was she able to study Classical, Renaissance, and Baroque Italian masterworks in person, but she also followed studio courses enjoying some of Italy's historical disciplines—stone carving, lost-wax bronze casting, and oil painting. As she wraps up her course of study in Sewanee, she continues to explore work that addresses, primarily through the painted surface, broad philosophical, epistemological questions as they coincide with the experience of the human body.

"The word “incarnate” can suggest both the possession of bodily (particularly human) form and, alternatively, a more metaphorical type of embodiment through which something abstract becomes concrete, actual, and comprehensible. The implication that bodily form somehow provides comprehensive understanding of that which supposedly inhabits it neglects the complexity of human experience as lived through body.

The body is a vessel—a three-dimensional object through which humans encounter the world (or perhaps it entirely constitutes human experience). Alternatively, it is something that people look at all the time as an image on a two-dimensional surface, separate and opposite them, in the reflection of the mirror or in photographs. These two models, of variously flat and spatial dimension, offer completely different understandings of body, and yet both inform a person’s experience of the world.

On a broader level, I am interested in how multiple and conflicting models of one concept become valid and vital components of the way we understand that concept. Light provides a pertinent example: depending on the problem at hand, scientists might treat light as a particle or a wave. It variously exhibits the behaviors of both. Both models are required to understand how light operates in and interacts with the physical world. My current work examines, via the painted surface, how this greater philosophical interest in multi-state or multi-modeled existence intersects with human experience of the body. Tension between illusion and materiality, between two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements, between the appearance or actuality of flatness and space—these all become vital components of my rendering the human body in multiple states." - Sarah Grace Pendergrass


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October 2014
Sewanee: The University of the South