• Burnaway Review

  • Lia Project Interview


    “Life is still beautiful in spite of the chaos; I am interested in how compassion, hope, and humor survives. In this work I am trying to imagine that a more beautiful world can exist, where innocence and hope can survive in even the most hostile environment and circumstances.” – Sarah Emerson

    Your upcoming solo show “Ruin in Reverse” at Corey Helford Gallery questions the strange occurrences that make up our physical reality. Can you please tell me what inspired you throughout your creative journey leading up to the show?

    In the studio I am affected by the same news everyone else is listening to and some of that imagery gets into the work. Through different series and projects, I have responded to some large ecological disasters that have occurred in the last 15 years, events such as the BP oil spill and the 2011 Japanese Tsunami had a profound affect on my visual language. I often reference those events through recurring symbols and suggestive elements that show our horizon constantly cannibalizing and rearranging everything. Over the last few months, our political and physical environment seems to be defined by destructive expansion, consumption, violence, and chaos. In response to the uncertainty of our current environment, I chose to obliterate the horizon and imagine it redefined by a void that surrounds or penetrates the compositions. I rearranged and used many of the elements from my previous body of work to make this work and in many ways these new paintings are completely personal interpretations of a world defined by chaos, uncertainty, and polarization. I want to stay mindful to all of these issues but I also want to resist cynicism and hopelessness. Life is still beautiful in spite of the chaos; I am interested in how compassion, hope, and humor survives. In this work, I am trying to imagine that a more beautiful world can exist, where innocence and hope can survive in even the most hostile environment and circumstances.

    Your name for your recent show “Ruin In Reverse” was inspired from a reference to George Musser’s book, Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon that Reimagines Space and Time, in which the author tries to unravel the mystery of not only space and time but also the origins of the cosmos. How has this book resonated with your artistic vision?

    I started reading Musser’s book because I am fascinated by spooky action at a distance and the idea of entanglement between two distant particles. Honestly, the theories in the book are beyond my comprehension, but the poetic description of black holes and the mysteries of entanglement altered the way I imagined my landscapes and inspired me to let go of the horizon line. My body of work explores the relationship between the inherent chaos of the natural world and the human instinct to control that chaos. In reality, our actions affect events beyond our immediate surroundings but sometimes we can’t see how our decisions affect the things we don’t see, we are limited by our personal horizon lines. I certainly don’t mean to oversimplify the concept of spooky action and nonlocality but it is more philosophical in my work. In consideration of how my work has evolved and the research that has driven my content, it makes sense for me to try to understand how all matter is connected in ruin and creation.Your new collection includes twenty new acrylic painting with the addition of carefully placed rhinestones. What do the sparkling addition of rhinestones represent to you?

    The rhinestones are there to catch the viewer’s attention and move the eye around the canvas. I keep them subtle so you may not even realize they are there until the light catches one and then they glimmer like a tiny, shiny object on the surface.

    Your work exudes a unique energy unlike any I have seen. How did you develop your very personal style? Can you please tell me more about your creative process?

    I never thought I would work as an artist, I went to college thinking I would do photo-journalism and then I was introduced to painting and drawing and it transformed the way I saw the world. Photo documentation and research is still a large part of how I produce my work but I’ve never had the patience or temperament to accept reality as it is. I do multiple drawings and layer them on top of each other to invent the compositions; I may go through many versions before I begin to paint. My images are abstracted and animated so I can manipulate resource material without completely obliterating the source. I’ll often use composition design theory so viewers subconsciously link individual paintings together or so I can create visual tension between real and flat space on canvas. The composition theory I use is always reinforced by my palette, either through contrasting black/dark spaces with bright colors or allowing colors to overlap multiple compositions. I don’t think much about style but I enjoy painting because it allows me to imagine many things existing at once on the surface, things that can be both beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. I suppose my style has developed through my personal effort to combine the psychological and the literal environment on one visual plane.You formally studied art in London. Has your formal education enhanced your creative process in any way? Have you seen a transformation in your work over time?

    I have no idea what kind of work I would be making without my formal education or whether I would be more creative without it? I believe understanding your materials, context, and history can strengthen an artistic practice but a formal education can never substitute curiosity and I don’t think it’s necessary to be creative. All I know is that I continue to be curious about the ways art, but specifically, the medium of painting can flatten time and memory on the surface of a flat plane. I am reactive to current events so my paintings have shifted over the years in response to darker and brighter times in our collective discourse. Since my work is not representational, I can treat the landscape as an active participant in the human narrative, adapting and rearranging itself in response to natural phenomenon or human sprawl. In all my work, I use the camouflage of beautiful colors and a deliberate composition to present themes that reflect on the fragility of life, the futility of earthly pleasures, and the disintegration of our natural landscape. I continue to build this narrative but I am also following our contemporary story to build it.

    What’s next for you after your upcoming show? Do you typically take time off to process your creative journey?

    It’s always nice to take space for reflection, but I am also working on a solo show for the Zuckerman Museum in Kennesaw, GA that opens is January 2018. I’m excited to continue working on the ideas from “Ruin In Reverse” but in the format of drawings and murals for the ZMA show. I’m also working on a limited edition book that will be available during the exhibit.



  • Hi Fructose

    by CaroPosted on 

    Atlanta, Georgia based artist Sarah Emerson‘s paintings and murals portray a world where sweetness and craziness collide in energetic displays. These colorful, camouflage-like landscapes present a bizarre version of actual places or things, inspired by the ways that time and human intervention affects them. Words like loopy, cartoony, even psychedelic are words often used to describe her imagery, populated by Disney-cute animals like baby deer and googley-eyed creatures, who peek through a thick foliage of wavy shapes and lines. Emerson once said that if there is any message that runs through all of her paintings, it’s that life is delicate and temporary, and she urges us to be present in it. This philosophy is at the heart of her solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, “The Unbearable Flatness of Being”, where a black cloud hangs over her trippy forest land. In her large-scale and expansive 18-piece series, trees and brush appear to have been destroyed by an unknown force, which we can only assume is the presence of man, suggested in the graffiti tags left behind by “Kilroy.” As the palette turns gray, creatures take shelter in underground burrows while the ground is littered with skull-like formations and bare branches. Emerson admits that her work mixes in a little darkness within the beautiful, bright setting, as that is the nature of life and the world she is the most familiar with.

    “The Unbearable Flatness of Being” by Sarah Emerson is now on view at the MOCA GA through February 6th, 2016.

  • Links to reviews of The Unbearable Flatness of Being at MOCA GA

  • Agnes Scott College, Dalton Gallery

    Agnes Scott College, Dalton Gallery

    Showing Thinking

    The fourth in a series of exhibitions on this theme, showing thinking 2015 provides an opportunity for five current faculty at Agnes Scott College to assemble and articulate their individual creative processes rather than to display finished products, as is more typical of gallery exhibitions. Process and practice, in multiple senses, shape this exhibition.

    This year’s exhibition features faculty from Creative Writing, Romance Languages, Mathematics, Marine Biology, and Studio Art. While they foreground their primary scholarly and creative practices, they also demonstrate, through serendipitous intersections, the ways that ideas can and do emerge, for teachers and students alike, beyond the classroom, between collaborators, through risk and imagination and attention, in mundane moments.

    January 29- February 27, 2015

    Image details: installation shot Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College 2015

  • Congratulations to the 2014/2015 Working Artist Project winners!  Sarah Emerson, Sheila Pree Bright,

    Congratulations to the 2014/2015 Working Artist Project winners! Sarah Emerson, Sheila Pree Bright,

    Selected by Siri Engberg, Senior Curator of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center in MinneapolisThe MOCA GA Working Artist Project (WAP) is an awards program to support established visual artists of merit who reside in the metropolitan Atlanta area. This initiative provides an unparalleled level of support for individual artists, expands the Museum’s mission, and promotes Atlanta as a city where artists can live, work, and thrive. As with past years, a guest juror will select three visual artists to receive the Award. Representing our city’s best and brightest; these artists will be supported with an exhibition, promotion, a studio assistant, and a major stipend to create work over the course of the year. This program is supported in large by a grant from The Charles Loridans Foundation with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.This year MOCA GA will provide the 2014/2015 WAP award recipients each with a stipend of $15,000; a paid studio apprentice for up to 300 hours at $10 per hour; an opportunity to interface with collectors, artists, and the public through programming and studio visits; an opportunity to interface with collectors, artists, and the public through programming and studio visits; documentation of the artist and work via MOCA GA’s Oral History Project & Education/Research Center; Presentation of a solo exhibition at MOCA GA of new works created at during the WAP grant period; inclusion of one (1) new work from the solo exhibition in the MOCA GA permanent collection; and production of an accompanying full-color exhibition solo catalogue.

    Please click below for publications related to the MOCA GA 2014/15 Working Artist Project

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution Video Interview



  • Second Nature: April 26 - May 17, 2014

    Second Nature: April 26 - May 17, 2014

    The Goat Farm 1200 Foster Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
    Twenty years ago on Earth Day, dedicated conservationists and friends of The Nature Conservancy gathered on the banks of the Chattahoochee River to celebrate shared victories toward securing Georgia’s natural future. Since then, The Hoochie has become one of Atlanta’s premier spring events and has raised more than $4 million to enable the Conservancy’s critical conservation projects around the state.

    To celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary, we will honor President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, who served on the host committee of the inaugural Hoochie event, for their commitment to conservation and longtime support of The Nature Conservancy. Patrons and Sponsors will be invited to attend an exclusive reception with President Carter on June 12 at the Carter Center. 

    The Hoochie 20 will take place on Friday, April 25th at The Goat Farm Arts Center in West Midtown. To complement the venue, our theme “Art of Nature” will explore how the natural world inspires us and will feature a curated art experience by Barbara Archer Gallery, live musical performances by the Bonaventure Quartet, gourmet cuisine by Epting Events and a boutique silent auction.

    - See more at:

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    Burnaway 3rd Annual ART CRUSH AUCTION!

    SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 7-10pm / Live Auction begins at 8pm
    Hosted by ELLISOROUS REX

    Mark your calendars for the 3rd annual Art Crush Auction — Atlanta’s most fun, most irreverent auction, featuring a collection of crushable creatives from around the city (and now, the Southeast)!

    The Art Crush Auction is an annual fundraiser that supports the mission of BURNAWAY, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing critical coverage and dialogue about the arts in Atlanta and the Southeast. Because we are a nonprofit, we rely on your support to produce our programs. Your ticket is a major part of this effort and is partially tax-deductible.

    Tickets include an evening of amazing artwork by emerging and mid-career artists from around the Southeast, a live auction that is chock full of witty repartee and custom-made experiences with Atlanta artists, open bar designed by the good people at Soundtable, and signature bites provided by some of our favorite Atlanta restaurants.

    Buy tickets for Art Crush Auction 2014 / $40 advance / $50 door

    * VIP Preview: Grant Park studio of Katherine Taylor, March 20, 7-9pm. To attend the preview party, become a member of the Host Committee today.

  • Cross Reference

    Cross Reference

    Cross-Reference, Emory Visual Arts Department Faculty & Alumni Exhibition

    Exhibition Dates: January 31 - April 5, 2014
    Opening: Thursday, January 30, 5:30 - 8pm
    Visual Arts Department & Gallery
    Emory University
    700 Peavine Creek Drive
    Atlanta, GA 30322

    The Visual Arts Gallery at Emory University announces Cross-Reference, an exhibition of faculty and selected alumni on view from Friday, January 31 – Saturday, April 5, 2013. Guest curated by Rebecca Dimling Cochran, the exhibition highlights the important contributions the Visual Arts Department has made to Emory University.

    As the center for the study and practice of contemporary art on Emory campus, the Visual Arts Department & Gallery has sought to strengthen the role of creativity and artistic exploration as a vital element of liberal arts education. Since its original inception as the Studio Arts Program in the late 1960s, and later as an official department and gallery in the 2000s, contemporary visual art on Emory’s campus has served as a vehicle for innovative inquiry and discussion around all manner of subjects. Indeed, the recognition of ingenuity, imagination, and visual literacy as essential and complimentary to academic research and scholarship have been the Department's highest priorities.

    Since 2006, the Visual Arts Gallery has organized over thirty-five exhibitions with related lectures and symposia that have resulted in creative collaborations with colleagues in various departments as well as opportunities for students to experience a visual interpretation of a range of subjects. Cross-Reference honors this past by including works that address subjects directly related to mathematics, history, literature, psychology, environmental studies, medicine, and behavioral science among other subjects.

    The Visual Arts Department at Emory University is scheduled to officially close in the summer of 2014. We invite you to join us as we commemorate the contributions Visual Arts has made to Emory University.

    Participating artists include:

    Linda Armstrong
    Bill Brown
    Joy Drury Cox
    Ruth Dusseault*
    Sarah Emerson
    Angus Galloway
    Dana Haugaard
    Diane Kempler
    Julia Kjelgaard
    Katherine Mitchell
    Kerry Moore
    Laura Noel

    *Ruth Dusseault's Seven-Minute Walden will be on view one week only from January 31 - February 8.

    Special thanks to the Hightower Fund of Emory University and the Emory Friends of Visual Arts.

    For more information, please contact Faith McClure in the Emory Visual Arts Department at or 404.712.4397. Gallery hours are from Monday through Thursday, 10am - 4pm and on Saturdays from 12-4pm.

    For a full listing of Visual Arts Gallery and Departmental Events, please visit ourNews/Events page.

  • Red Bull Canvas Cooler Project Atlanta

    <iframe src="//;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ffffff" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">Red Bull Curates: Canvas Cooler Atlanta (featuring Sarah Emerson and Sam Parker)</a> from <a href="">Geoff Levy</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>


  • Scope Miami Booth E13

    New paintings on view at Red Bull Curates Canvas Cooler Project Scope Miami Booth E13

    4 December 2013 11:00 AM – 8 November 2013 8:00 PM, 1000 Ocean Drive Miami Beach, FL 33139

    WED | DEC 04 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
    THUR | DEC 05 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
    FRI | DEC 06 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
    SAT | DEC 07 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
    SUN | DEC 08 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM


  • Upcoming and Recent Events -November 2013

    I recently completed a mural for Elevate commissioned by the Office of Cultural Affairs, Atlanta, located at 91 Broad Street, Atlanta, GA.

    Red Bull Curates Scope Miami Basel Dec 3-8, 2013

    Whitespace Gallery, Aqua Art Miami Dec 3-8, 2013

    Little Things Mean A Lot, Swan Coach House, Atlanta, GA

    The December Show, Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta, GA


  • Upcoming events fall 2013

    Monster Drawing Rally at the High Museum on Sept 21, 1pm
    Ossuary (traveling group show) Univ. of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, October 5 - 26, Opening reception: Friday Oct 4, 5:00 - 9:00pm
    Red Bull Curates Canvas Cooler Project Atlanta 2013,  Oct 17
    Elevate, Oct 18 (installation of the mural between Oct 10-17)