“The portrait represents our shared love of classic films and theatre. It represents queer history in the arts and it impacts on mainstream culture.” -Maria Calandra
A dear friend of Sarah ‘TurtlArt’ Hunter, Maria Calandra met Sarah through their mutual love for film and theatre, which is how she came to purchase Tennessee Williams. One of Marie’s most memorable experiences was our visit to the Shaw Festival where they saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and this solidified Williams appreciation as being ‘our thing’. Shortly after that outing, I saw the Williams portrait at an exhibit and knew it had to be mine!”
Sonja Scharf and Kelly Kyle are the creative directors at Akasha Art Projects. They had known Sarah Hunter through the art community but got to know her when she came to them for framing. But it was her participation in their annual Artival show which ultimately inspired them to purchase Janet Flanner and Lady Una Troubridge from the queer artist portraits series.
“I am by no means an art expert. That being said, I remember when I saw this piece, I was struck by the complex use of black and greys and the subtlety of the face that she painted. Without even really knowing what the piece was about or even called, I felt moved by it and kept looking at it as though I wanted to have it.” says Leslie Robinson about Sappho which he purchased.
Leslie Robinson is a second-year law student, friend of Sarah Hunter and frequent visitor to their art shows and studio. Leslie adds that he was attracted to this particular work because of it’s “strong feminine feel.” To see more of Sarah’s work, click here.
While I was working on the Mother’s Comb series of paintings in my artwork, I found that I started to uncover issues that had always been present in our relationship. I think her disapproval of me being gay and not wanting me to come out was a kind of unspoken dialogue we had growing up. She was very repressed by her family and kind of passed that on to me. I took on some of her repression and didn’t realize I was acting it out in my own life unconsciously. I also think that growing up in the family I did where the men were very dominant impacted both of us a lot.
Women were not seen as very important except to be the kind of handmaidens of men. They were there to serve and defer to men. In the mother’s comb series I started to explore the mother’s unconscious wish ( my mother’s wish) to repress my sexuality and queerness and her unspoken message to follow the path she had which was to get married and have children. So there are lots of images of the mother with her magical comb….a symbol also of her hair which I associate with sexuality. And my mother had a thing about her hair….Her hairdos were legend. She spent a lot of time on her hair. Then there are images of naked women in the artwork, forbidden fruit as it were, and images of a woman on a journey which includes, owning who she is, coming out, defying the conventions of society and searching for meaningful relationships.
There are also images of couples embracing, they could be two men or two women it’s not always clear and images of the aging father and husband of my mother who is also somewhat ambivalent about the journey he witnesses that his daughter has embarked upon.
I had been struggling with the final painting in this series and then one day put three tombstones into the picture. When I finally added these three images I realized it was about the deaths that had occurred in my family in the last two years. My mother, her sister my Aunt Alison, and a dear friend in England all passed away within 6 months of each other. The piece started to come together once I added the tombstones. Then as a kind of final gesture in the piece I placed a fourth tombstone in the painting, larger than the others and my dad passed away in the next few days….so I realized ok, I see this is about processing my mothers’ death but also the imminent passing away of my father as well. My dad died two days before my mothers birthday two years after her.
I also think this series is a way of processing the relationship I did have with my mother, which really improved in the last few years of her life. She made a lot of amends to me at the end of her life and we were on good terms when she died. Prior to that time we were not close and I always felt I wanted to get close to her but couldn’t somehow. She stayed a mysterious person to me most of my life, someone I wanted to be close to but it was very difficult for her to open up and share herself with me.
“You get to define what success means for you don’t let society or the art market decide that for you.”
In Sarah’s off hours she is a dedicated full-time artist whose work is as beautiful as it is provocative. In 2008 she began what was to become her Queer Portraits collection including such notables as Oscar Wilde, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. In a recent interview with Sarah I asked her about the collection, her sources of inspiration and got some sage advice for those just entering the field. READ MORE
Pictured here: Gertrude Stein
Saturday January 13th from 1 to 3 pm stop by the Face And Figure art show reception at Ben Navaee Gallery in Hamilton. Artists include Sarah Hunter (in attendance), Alfred DeCurtis, Diane Fine, Mirka Hattula and Mena Nunes. Drop by, say hello and experience portraits in a whole new light.
Sarah Hunter portraits for sale include: Butch In A Mask, Boy-Girl, Femme In A Mask and Woman In A Red Dress.
Please leave a comment below and tell us how you brightened someone’s day. Artwork by Sarah Hunter, Hummingbird 15×18″, collage & ink.
Artwork shown here: God Is Love by Sarah Hunter