New Eyes


Curated by:

Sarah Louise Wilson

On my father’s side, I am a descendant of enslaved people, and on my mother’s side, I am a descendant of European immigrants. Memories, dreams, and history have all played a part in making this current collection come to fruition. 

All of the artwork presented here, flowed out of me between February 2021 - May 2021. It was then I realized that I needed to “worry about myself”. Something I heard growing up frequently but never really understood what it meant beyond minding my own business until 2020 hit like a brick. Then the words my father and mother had said (and still say to me), “worry about yourself” seemed to be talking about self-love instead of worrying about everyone else.

I could not paint for the entirety of 2020. I was in a dark spot. So, it took time to formulate my thoughts after so many years of trauma both witnessed and personally experienced. This is partly because I am a perfectionist, and as many have pointed out to me over the years, it can be a crippling disposition. With that in mind, I decided to get free of it and just paint because no matter how hard I try, I will never get it perfect— not an idea, not life, not anything, so I just painted. This show is an attempt to express me and hopefully, by doing so, something will resonate in others because I know I am not alone in my pain. I know I am not alone in my desire to heal through love.

The show is a mixture of oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas, and wood-burned art, better known as pyrography. I chose to burn images into reclaimed wood for two reasons. One, it was available after my parents remodeled their newly purchased home— first built around 1914— and two because it seemed to fit some themes I wanted to explore in the show. 

The wood is old but sturdy and certainly as imperfect as our shared history. My parents were kind enough to give me the wood after I told them that I had an idea about burning some wood art. As I  burned images of my personal icons, I came across some of the evidence of demolition in the form of gashes and holes. It reminded me of when I was a child and would draw on the back of my father's marked-up blueprints. It felt like a collaboration.

The wood proved to be difficult to burn images in to but that in itself seemed to be a metaphor for what I am trying to express— our history — our shared history regarding The African Diaspora is difficult and imperfect and ugly. 

I turned the gashes and knots in the wood into flowers and birds instead of pretending like they were not there. Much like how I do not want to pretend like our shared history is not what it really is. Slavery happened and
continues today in the form of our prison system and mindset.

I burned images of people I found to be powerful and influential icons into the wood. These are not all of the people I find influential but I had to stop at some point or I would have painted all of my siblings, my beautiful in-laws, my sweet husband whose unflinching love and support have taught me, inspired me and been the fuel to my fire— Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, friends, and so many more but alas, I only have so much wall space for this exhibition. That said, I hope you enjoy it. This is by no means a complete representation of all those who have contributed to my wokeness. It is merely a taste.

Curated by Sarah Louise Wilson & Ali Sreij


Other exhibitions by Sarah Louise Wilson