Sage Lewis '04

My passion for artistic expression drives each endeavor.

Sage Lewis ’04 earned her MFA in Painting and Drawing from Ohio State University (OSU) and in 2015 completed a 10-month Artist-in-Residence fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, where, in addition to teaching in the Department of Painting and Printmaking, she was given a studio and access to the many facilities the campus had to offer.

Prior to her studies at OSU, Sage lived in Portland, Maine for 12 years, earning her BFA in Painting with a minor in Art History from MECA. She held positions in arts administration and curating at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at MECA, the Maine Arts Commission, and at the Portland Museum of Art.

As a visual artist, Sage is engaged in connections between material process and concept as she works through drawing, sculpture, prints, and photography, to translate images into multiple outcomes. Her photo-based works establish a tactile relationship between methods of drawing and marks of photographic processes.

Sage has also been selected as the curator of MECA’s 2016 Biennial Faculty Exhibition in the ICA at MECA. On the practice of curating, Lewis says “My dual experiences as an organizer of exhibitions and as a visual artist have allowed me to work with and for artists with an acute understanding of both positions. My passion for artistic expression drives each endeavor. In working with contemporary artists, the goal is not simply to accomplish another show, but to discover something through the creative format of exhibition-making that furthers the work we all do.”

Sage’s work has been exhibited widely. In 2015, her solo show Material Inference at the Denison Museum in Granville, OH, explored “the way that material meanings can be altered from one translation to the next” and included photograms, tintypes, paper negatives and large-scale digital prints from imagery of paper sculptures. In 2016, her work was included in Living Image, an exhibit of 18 artists selected by Artforum photo editor Chandra Glick from an international call for entries, at Gravy Studio & Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.

About her time in Qatar, she said, “One of the highlights of my year was chaperoning a field study trip to India with students. We saw a lot of amazing contemporary art at the Kochi Biennale and the India Art Fair. I was inspired (among many things) by the beautifully imperfect marble tile formations at the Taj Mahal. A piece I made called Sectional is based on an architectural form of a receding grid with a central depression or indentation. The material used to create this image was an assemblage of laser toner printed and cut pieces from an enlarged photograph of a carbon paper sculpture. I wanted to display both perspectival space and flatness within the same image while pushing the boundaries of the photographic marks toward marks akin with drawing.”

“Throughout my time in Doha, I was continually observing a wide range of architecture from the ‘starchitect’ mega contemporary buildings to the aging vernacular structures of decades earlier, as they are being torn down and constructed as something new. The urban landscape is constantly changing due to rapid construction and Qatar has set out to create an international hub for education and research where I was located in Education City, Doha.”

While teaching in Doha, she was also awarded a faculty research grant to travel to London and produce a series of carbon prints. Carbon printing is an archaic 19th century process that creates an image made of carbon over a layer of gelatin. “It is something I have been wanting to learn for years and was lucky to work with an expert on the process. Afterwards, I returned to Doha and taught the process to students who were enrolled in my Material Image course. One of the carbon prints, called Constellation, pictured the surface of the desert in Qatar. In carbon prints, the black areas of the photo are darker and shinier than the lighter areas. This allows the black shadows of the rocks pictured below to reflect light which creates a type of constellation. Tiny bubbles that pockmark the surface of the gelatin also reveal the receiving paper that lies below the image layer.”

“My fascination with the desert and notions of scale and orientation became a rich source of imagery from which I am still working. Texture and grain which are present in paper and images relate directly to the the surface of the desert. Perceptual interferences from heat waves and dust have also left their mark on my work.”

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Pictured in header: Constellations, carbon gelatin print, 5.5″ x 8″, 2015. Image courtesy of Sage Lewis.

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