“We cannot have narrative without sequence, but can we have sequence without narrative?”  –Peter Greenaway and the Four Tyrannies of Film: The Death Knell of Cinema. Aug 2008.


Ideas in my work come from shared but fragmentary everyday experience, with its constant slippage of the strange and the familiar.  Filtered data enters a fictional realm. Time slows to a standstill, finally encapsulated in colored paste.  These are not necessarily narrative paintings, but they do suggest sequence and scenario. They have a certain point of view.  Successive paintings become a long slow movie.



As much attention is given to spatial situations as to figural elements or entities.  Disparate forms and fragments gravitate to fields or substrates.  Harmonious spaces collide with more destabilized areas.

Multiple perspectives, contradictions of scale, and color juxtapositions result in either synthesis or dissonance.  Organizing, deconstructing and re-constructing the spatial characteristics of the painting go on throughout the process. 

These microcosms often have a geospatial overview.  I associate the word “neighborhoods” with them–in the graphic sense, as abstract containment zones with certain rules.  Invalid cells must go, but are persistent, and negotiations occur in the places of habitation.  “Neighborhood” itself is such a fluid term now–meaning anything from Mr. Rogers world, to internet clustering, to the character of an actual built environment. Places of affinity or accommodation.  

Neighborhood B

Neighborhood B

In recombinant mind space, the exploratory stage is flexible, but the strict limitations of the canvas demand focus and selection of details.  In a surreal Peter Greenaway film, recorded details can seem extraneous to the main action.  The director uses devices of dislocation—for example, actors are heard speaking but remain unseen for an annoying length of time, while the camera explores the entire room instead. I hope that entering the rooms of these paintings might cause viewers to have visions and hear voices—to go from skimming the surface to questioning and imagining. 


I’m interested in social psychology and cultural expressions of human behavior. Themes involving collective perspectives, group dynamics, relationships and alliances, ethics, the psychology of space, boundaries and turfs.  The effects of globalization, the clash of science and religion, and the implications of our recent expansion into the infinity of cyberspace–are related areas of interest.  The sense of dislocation, transplantation and sometimes alienation that creeps into these paintings is an attempt to capture the experience of these turbulent times. 

We are wading into the 21st century—the “post-natural era”–in a state of cool angst.  How do we navigate a culture that pits people against each other?  A few minutes ago I watched a sea anemone stuck on a coral reef devouring an eight foot long jellyfish that happened to swim by.  We try to escape and we try to laugh.  We marvel at the diversity of life on this planet.  And make art if we have the luxury of time, trusting that it offers something of value.                ~Sarah Wilkins




WILKINS SG artist WEB close


MFA – UNC Chapel Hill 1989 Studio Art
BA – College of William and Mary 1976 Art, English


Orange County Artists Guild Board 2001-2004
Orange County Artists Guild Website Liaison 2004-2006
Cover articles published in Neue Keramik Berlin
–and Ceramics Monthly, 2002-2009

Juried Exhibitions:

“Dimensions 2014,” Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC
–June 6-July 7, 2014
“Color,” BWAC Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
–July 26-Aug 17, 2014
“Visions 2014: Invention as Art,” Sechrest Gallery, High Point University, NC
–Aug 18–Oct 16, 2014
“Alabama National,” Sella-Granata Gallery, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
–Aug 25 – Sept 19, 2014
“Painting in the World: Politics, Violence, & Reconciliation,”
NAU Art Museum, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
–Sept 16 –Nov 22, 2014

Previous Selected Juried Exhibitions:

Durham Art Guild, Sarah Wilkins, Suntrust Gallery, Dec 2013
Labourlove Gallery, Durham, 2011-2012
“12 X 12” Golden Belt, Durham 2011-2012
“2011 North Carolina Artists Exhibition,” Raleigh Fine Arts
–March through May 2011, Progress Energy Center, Raleigh
“Supersize – Bigger is Better”  Multi-part wall installation
–Annmarie Garden/Smithsonian, Solomons MD, 2011
Frank Gallery, Chapel Hill, 2010
“Beyond This” Manbites Dog Theatre, Durham 2009
Studio Exhibitions:
Golden Belt Artist Studios, Durham 2008-2014 ongoing
Orange County Annual Open Studio Tour 2000-2010

works in studio





Doodle Board 1I’ve always used photos, pictures and various artifacts on pin boards for inspiration.  I also aggregate images on computer to use as notes rather than a full composition.  Then after this note taking I make small studies for the larger painting –the final stage– which remains flexible within the boundaries and trajectory already established.  The final paintings are all acrylics on canvas, with no collage elements.  Nothing is applied or stuck onto the canvas. The only media other than paint is the occasional use of pencil.


Doodle Board 2Wilkins Sarah_ Escapist Fantasy_WEB

More and more we are what we look at.  What we pay attention to defines us.  Today the mind’s eye has multiple perspectives.  Synthesis is elusive.  Static artworks become time capsules, in striking contrast to the stream of visual input we filter every day.  The art object or project is an attempt to integrate the myriad illusions we call reality.

Doodle Board 6

“In the Last Chance Saloon, Tombstone, Arizona,
I saw the lizard creature with its glued head,
almost human, tilted up from under the glass,
as if it didn’t know which world to claim.”

–Richard Jackson, excerpt from
For a Long Time I have Wanted to Write
A Happy Poem