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Threads and Layers

Sara Garden Armstrong

Sara Garden Armstrong is a multimedia artist whose decades-long practice embraces a wide range of scales and techniques. Her lyrical, nature-based work interprets life processes and systems, addressing organic change and transformation with elements of decay, chance, and shifts in reality. Often these are expressed through breathing, water, and time.

This Exhibition of drawings, paintings, sculptures, artist books, and large site-specific installations showcases both new and older work. It is the last stop for Armstrong’s traveling exhibition, Threads and Layers, which orientated concurrently with the publication of her monograph of the same title. The Gadsden Museum catalog of the exhibition encapsulates the entirety of the traveling exhibition. Both monographs and catalogs are available at the front desk.

In the main gallery, an early piece from 1979, Environment: Sound/Structure III, invokes the interaction of ritual and personal relationships via the use of color, movement, and sound. The accompanying drawings used to score the sound give insight into the artist’s creative process. On the opposite side of the gallery are sculptural pieces dealing with breathing and life-supporting systems.

Off the main gallery are Littoral Drawings, in which Armstrong has captured a recording of time, as the water’s edge laps the shoreline, a moment never to be repeated. In the adjoining room, the multimedia installation Airplayer XVII consists of sculptural forms, projections, sound, air movement, and shadows painted directly on the wall. The work evokes growth and shifting reality. The remainder of the exhibition consists of flatwork and a selection of Armstrong’s artist books. Drawing and painting serve as the foundation of her art practice.

Armstrong received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama and a Master of Art Education from UAB. After living in New York City for 36 years, in 2017 she returned to Birmingham, where she currently lives and works. A past recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation CALL (Creating a Living Legacy) grant through Space One Eleven, Armstrong has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her artist books can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and many others.


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