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Sarah Matthews "Illuminated"

Sarah Matthews show, Illuminated, is in its last weeks of running at Locals gallery in Poolesville, Maryland. This body of work is not to be missed, so head over to the 2nd floor gallery, the show is up until March 5, 2023. On March 6th we will begin the installation of the work of Susan Due Pearcy, local printmaker and painter, with over 50 years of artistic pursuits. Sarahs show statement and my curator statement are below with images of her work. Enjoy!

Artist Statement:

Illuminated is an exhibition examining what it feels like to search for individuality. It documents the struggles of finding answers to long-standing questions about race, equality, and gender and breaking through barriers while shining a light on social injustice in the United States. Healing and forgiveness are needed to break the cycle that reverberates through our existence today. Illuminated is a pathway to seeing where we were in the past and where we need to be.

Illuminated is a collection of relief prints and artist books created by Sarah Matthews from 2016-2022 as a result of the effects of the Black Lives Matter movement, the COVID 19 global pandemic, and the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Carving large wood blocks and making layered prints with linoleum blocks and Sintra plates have been a way to reflect on her thoughts and feelings about the injustices in the world. ~ Sarah Matthews


Curators notes by Pam Heemskerk:

Illuminated. The dictionary defines the word as “to brighten with light”. Manuscripts in medieval times were illuminated boldly with hand-colored illustrations and decorations in gold, silver, and inks, designed to help guide readers and believers who could not read. They were intended to enlighten people spiritually and emotionally. Illuminated, the title of Sarah Matthews exhibit, does just this, moves people to become more enlightened and aware of race, gender, equality, and social justice.

Make Things, 2021.

Sarah’s use of bold color, pattern, words, and images are layers upon layers of printmaking to create the whole of the image. One can feel the artist's hand in the making through the many textures and layers. Sarah moves quickly, rarely thinking about what she is doing, mostly feeling into, and letting go into the work.

In the piece, “Make Things”, the artist used trash pieces to create the ground layer. Then she set it aside, thinking that it was going nowhere. Two weeks later, she was drawn to block printing all over the image. She set it aside again. A few weeks later, a paintbrush in her hands, she is drawn to paint a sentiment important to her directly on the piece. Make Things. Nothing more needed to be expressed, it was now finished. This piece speaks to makers and creators, as the artist is urging us to not be so precious and cautious, that everything is usable, time matters, and to trust that what you have to say will come out through play. It emphasizes that your unique voice and way of making things matters.


In the piece, “Like Your Life Depends on It”, layers of primary color block prints and the word “vote” intertwine as a provocation and invocation to exercise your right to vote. As a response to our political landscape turning even more chaotic in 2020, the artist created this piece that asks you to vote like your life depends on it. Installing the print in a mirror frame has you look at yourself and your relationship to voting while contemplating the piece. Your voice matters.

Like Your Life Depends on It, Black Children Matter, 2020.

Toni Morrison once said, “The best art is political, and you ought to be able to make it unquestioningly political and beautiful at the same time”. I believe that when Toni was speaking about beauty, she was speaking about truth. Sarah Matthews speaks boldly of justice, history, hope and forgiveness. She speaks of truth.

That is illumination.

~ Pam Heemskerk

Artist Bio

Sarah Matthews is a MA Art & the Book graduate from the Corcoran College of Arts and Design at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She also received an MBA with a Marketing Concentration in 2005 and a BS in Sociology in 2000 from Bowie State University in Bowie, MD. Mrs. Matthews’ work has been exhibited internationally and is a part of permanent collections such as Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, George Washington University’s Gelman Library, University of Puget Sound, and Samford University. She teaches Artist Books at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and other bookbinding and printmaking classes at art centers and on various platforms.


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