SARAH IRVIN: Atlas Uh-oh

12 May - 18 June 2016

Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to present Atlas Uh-oh, Sarah Irvin’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.


Sarah Irvin creates dynamic, rich images that contain an activated freshness while ruminating on the strength and limitations of language and memory. Her process for her ink series reflects the shifting nature of memory, the evolution of language on an individual and societal level, and how the dependability of both can be lost over time. The series was initially inspired by her grandfather’s loss of language due to Alzheimer’s disease. Now, Irvin uses the limited language skills of her 18-month-old daughter as a starting point, shifting her focus from the end of our relationship with words to the beginning.


Irvin begins with ink and a non-absorbent Yupo paper, writing words and phrases thickly in expressive cursive. Once written, Irvin takes squeegees and destroys the words, allowing the ink to slip and spread across the paper, forming new marks. Remnants of the words sometimes remain visible, but their meaning can’t be deciphered.


The initial phrases are derived from personal family memories, Irvin’s daughter’s first words, and concerns about our culture’s use of language. By obscuring them, Irvin evokes both the power and shortcomings of language. She questions the ability of the individual to accurately make use of these words, and our society to interpret them correctly, subverting the very techniques used to record our language through writing and publishing. The immediacy of the finished image evokes an emotional sensibility, as if destroying the words has left only the feeling of the moment or concept they described.


Sarah Irvin holds a BA from University of Georgia and an MFA from George Mason University (2016).  Her work has been exhibited with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, and the San Angelo Public Arts Commission, among others. Her work is found in both private and corporate collections, including the University of Richmond, Quirk Hotel, and Try-Me Urban Restoration Project.