Sarah Purnell is an artist and recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. Originally from New Jersey, she resides in Baltimore and is interested in fine art and curation. Her work, which consists of drawing and printmaking, utilizes figure abstraction to depict liminal, psychological spaces that address sociopolitical themes. Sarah has interned at C. Grimaldis Gallery and Maryland Art Place, and has shown work in exhibitions at several MICA galleries. She aspires to continue developing her studio practice, and is pursuing a career involving curatorial studies.


artist statement

My work explores the difficulties of navigating self-discovery while negotiating social constructions of gender, womanhood, and sexuality. I begin each drawing by developing a composition of overlapping figures. The drawings are spontaneous, resembling large sketches; they undergo an additive and subtractive process involving the building and erasing of line and tone. I use this process to construct psychological, synchronous interactions with the self, with others, and with the environment. The nature of these interactions can be derived from the aggression or subtlety of the mark making.

Each figure contains an ecosystem of line, mark, and fleshy tone. Their hands and feet are exaggerated to represent our freedom and mobility. By distorting and abstracting the figure, I seek to subvert enduring historical associations of the female nude with sublimity and sexuality. The dissonant elements in my work represent challenging relationships with oneself in the face of societal expectations.