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Sarah Nelson
Painting the Unusual Suspects

by John Budris

Don’t expect the usual suspects from Vineyard born and raised artist Sarah Nelson. You will find but few pastel beach scenes of dune grass and dreamy south shore vistas in her ever growing portfolio. Forget the livestock. Her moods are somber - and at times - dark. While some artists paint what they see, the landscape allows Sarah to paint what she calls her "emotional spaces."

"The ancient Celts described the windswept, Irish moors as 'thin places.' In these places they believed the distance between the physical and spiritual world became shorter. To stand in a thin place they believed to have had the ability to touch edge of the transcendent," Sarah notes. "These places were not for relaxation or comfort, but were rather for finding meaning and reflection. In these places only the essential is present. In my work I try to capture the thin places in my own life."

In one large oil commissioned by a New Orleans law firm titled "Holding Out," Sarah created an internal landscape reminiscent of the work of British-born painter William Turner. "I wanted to suggest to clients the atmosphere of the firm's strength and resolve in a visual sense."

After graduating with honors from the University of New Hampshire's prestigious museum studio art program in 2012 with a collection of awards and prizes, Sarah cut her professional teeth on the Vineyard, New Orleans and Los Angeles. This summer she is continuing a project initiated two years ago restoring the sculptures of the late Tom Maley. "Both Tom Maley and his work are beloved on the Vineyard," says Sarah. "Helping to preserve what he left behind isn't work - it's an honor for me."

On Island, Sarah's work is shown at the Old Sculpin Gallery and PIKNIK Fine Art and Apparel, both in Edgartown. To see more of her work, log onto