• Clues Along the Way – Sarah Bedford

    Date posted: August 14, 2007 Author: jolanta
    I grew up on a ranch in a remote part of eastern Montana, the youngest of four children. The Great Outdoors was my backyard—the area where Lewis and Clark crossed the Musselshell River over a hundred years ago, and where, like these explorers, I found myself collecting everything I found interesting in that great open landscape: fossils, rocks, bottles, wild flowers, old bones and rusty metal parts. I often hiked for hours by myself looking for a specific flower or rock in some remote location, and would create detailed maps of where I found these things: … Sarah Bedford, Altered Stage, 2005 - nyartsmagazine.com

    Clues Along the Way – Sarah Bedford 

    Sarah Bedford, Altered Stage, 2005 - nyartsmagazine.com
    Sarah Bedford, Altered Stage, 2005. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 60″ x 150″ diptych.

          

    I grew up on a ranch in a remote part of eastern Montana, the youngest of four children. The Great Outdoors was my backyard—the area where Lewis and Clark crossed the Musselshell River over a hundred years ago, and where, like these explorers, I found myself collecting everything I found interesting in that great open landscape: fossils, rocks, bottles, wild flowers, old bones and rusty metal parts. I often hiked for hours by myself looking for a specific flower or rock in some remote location, and would create detailed maps of where I found these things: Indian teepee rings on the hilltops surrounding our barn, small arrowheads hidden beneath mud-sparrow nests and ancient scraper tools down near a winding creek bed. Even while riding the school bus to school, my eyes were peeled for prospects. Once, on a washed-out part of the road, I saw something hidden beneath the dead pine needles and biked back to the spot after school, thrilled to discover a spectacular flint knife, rare and intact. I quickly marked the place on my growing map.

    My early desire to find natural and man-made objects that intrigue me and to map the landscape from which they were discovered remains the primary impetus behind my approach to painting. This is perhaps most evident in my miniature vignettes, which are often hidden by transparent scrims or impastoed layers that dot my panaromic views of forests, mountains and clouds. The non-linear nature of my compositions should encourage viewers to wander and discover with the same curiosity that I experienced as a child in Montana. Sometimes I leave clues along the way for guidance—humorous, beautiful or referential images that create a map all their own.    

    How I paint is also intended to draw the viewer into a state of discovery. Alternately glossy, flat, thin, impastoed, taped, poured, dripped and scraped, paint is used to suggest the illusion of surfaces and layers under which the hidden pleasures of color, line, shape and texture are to be sought out and sorted. The viewer is meant to follow, explore and dig within. While many of my paintings incorporate the landscape of urban culture that currently surrounds me, I still seek out images in sources that remind me of my childhood—vintage nature books, old postcards, retro fabric swatches, etc. These elements are always transformed in some way to represent that moment of discovery: twigs glitter, pressed flowers become silhouettes, forests are rendered in rainbow colors and mountains seem to dance in the distance.

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