Sage Lewis- MFA AIR - 2014-2015
Sage Lewis’ works revolve around the concept of finding multiple truths in representation. Working through drawings, print media, sculpture, and photography Lewis explores how meaning is altered from one translation to the next while still appearing as an accurate account. Through these layered processes, Lewis merges marks from the hand and from the apparatus of camera or printing mechanism in order to arrive at something unfamiliar.
Her work is informed by the history of science, optics, and perspective and she often draws upon architecture, archaeology, and geology as source material. While living in Qatar, Lewis was struck by the dramatic shifts in scale and orientation that characterized the desert and urban environment. A sense of heightened observation led to an archeological approach to interpreting landscape and architectural structures. The physical aspects of the surrounding environment such as heat waves, dust, sand, combined with massive modern architecture and a continually changing urban landscape have been influential. These perceptions are embedded in the imagery, processes, and concepts that form her recent work.
Lewis began her work in Qatar by taking samples such as dirt and sand and observations of architectural fragments to the studio in ways similar to an archaeologist but with different tools and objectives. She pictured these samples through a lens, scope, or scanning device to locate views that would be otherwise inaccessible. A scanner can only interpret what directly touches its surface, and everything beyond that point of contact falls into the hazy distance. Through this relationship of the scanner’s touch, picturing the desert became a way for Lewis to extend that tactile relationship from the surface of the earth to the surface of prints and photographs. Lewis created large-scale inkjet prints, printing on the same page multiple times and layering imagery to form a unique composition. Lewis worked with the large-format view camera to make silver gelatin paper negative images of her compositions in the studio. She developed a process of dyeing her inkjet prints on fabric using a technique that creates wave patterns in the image. For Lewis, these patterns and their interaction with the photographic image were evocative of perceptual interferences from heat waves and dust and digital aberrations from the screen and the scanner. With the help of a faculty research grant from VCUQ, Lewis produced a series of carbon prints of the desert and polymer plate photogravures showing satellite views of this same area of Qatar. These prints represent the amalgamation of analogue and digital working methods that form her practice.
Since completing the Artist in Residence Fellowship at VCUQ in spring 2015, Lewis has exhibited her work at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, the Denison Museum in Granville, Ohio where she lectured as a Visiting Artist. In 2016, she will present work at Burlington City Arts in Burlington, Vermont and at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York that focuses on her experiences of the desert landscape in Qatar and includes the carbon prints she made in London and Doha. Lewis was the recipient of Project Space Residency at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York. She continues to develop new work based on her desert photographs and print media generated during her time at VCUQ.