SEB Words

Sarah Elizabeth Banks


My purpose in building images is to construct a dialogue between color and form, between object and environment as a vehicle for exploring the logic of our times. The history of the 20th century in the West seemed to be a narrative of catastrophe—financial crises, isms, dictatorship, wars, genocide—a century of violence. Picasso’s Gernika was one of the last century’s best realized portraits of an age as were Damien Hirst’s celebrated Vanitas and David Hockney’s serene California pools. As Wassily Kandinsky said: ‘Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions.’ Surely one of the paramount emotions of a good number of those who lived the 20th century was shell shock, or numbness.

A narrative seems to be emerging for the 21st century—echoing the last. To that we can add talk of a clash of civilizations, economic collapse, environmental Armageddon, and machines replacing humans. Weighty stuff! ….. Already street artists, photographers, installation artists are responding. With my keen interest in history, I have many subjects. The challenge is to find a way to mediate between subject and materials to illuminate the discussion of what should or could happen next. And what emotions will these events bring into the world?

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