Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Sarah Charlesworth

Sarah Charlesworth

Sarah Charlesworth is a visual artist and photographer who has exhibited widely in the US and abroad. With over 40 individual exhibitions, a traveling museum retrospective (organized by SITE, Santa Fe) and presence in many major museum shows and collections, Charlesworth is one of the seminal figures whose work has been instrumental in bridging the gap between fine art and a critical practice of photography. Charlesworth’s photo-based artwork explores the language of photography in contemporary culture and the ways in which it orders values and perceptions. She has taught photography for several years in the graduate programs at both the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and the School of Visual Arts in New York. Charlesworth’s work appears in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MOCA, Los Angeles and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, amongst many others. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim fellowship. She lives and works in New York.

Contemporary art is inseparable from its history as an exploratory and expressive practice, one that seeks to know and to redefine the ways in which we experience the world. The work of women artists has had a primary role in giving form to that inquiry. The critical dynamic of feminism, which sought to disrupt the fixity of inherited patriarchal and colonial assumptions, has been a radical and energizing force in every aspect of culture, but none more so than art. In photography, painting, video, and sculpture, the critical and self assertive dialectic of deconstruction and re-articulation which has been fundamental to feminist practice has likewise advanced a politics of inclusion which has valued the contributions of minorities in America as well as non-Western sensibilities in an expanded field of art practice.

In my work I have been concerned with the ways in which public imagery forms a horizon of possibility, informing our sense of ourselves and of the world and shaping our experience and expectations. The overall aim of my project as an artist has been to explore and address the many ways in which photography, as a specific form of shared visual language, articulates values and beliefs, both formally and in terms of content, within the culture at large.  I have, through my various series, examined the role of photography within popular culture as it serves to articulate models of sexuality, gender, and political perspective, as well as, conceptions of psychology and spirituality.  I have, through these many projects, addressed the ways in which visual meaning is created, while exploring and re-orienting specific models of self and world. My emphasis has always been active in terms of both drawing attention to and reformulating the visual models by which we picture the world. My work has stressed the importance of making, rather than merely reflecting, the values that define our lives.  I see this endeavor as firmly rooted within a broader feminist project within the cultural sphere, in which women have played a truly significant role over the last two decades.

View Sarah Charlesworth's CV (PDF)

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New York, NY


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