a m y s a c k s t e d e r

Paintings and collages from the 2019-2020 series Grounded / Ungrounded. Installed in the three-person exhibition Borrowed Time at the University Gallery at Western Illinois University in 2020.


My paintings, drawings, collages, cut paper work, and installations explore artifacts as vehicles of human connectedness to specific places and occurrences. Compelled by interactions with the land and landscape, I investigate the personal, environmental, and political significances of place. I’m interested in idiosyncratic, ephemeral contrasts that draw my attention as I move through my daily life—on walks, runs, while traveling or within and around my home--often capturing these moments on my phone for later consideration. I’m drawn to human interventions in the natural world such as cairns, surveyor’s markings, and graffitied tags, alongside fleeting moments such as melting ice, light on water, shimmering shadows. A personal investment in essential materials--such as tarnishing silver leaf, volcanic ash, water from a glacial lagoon, lily pollen, dirt gleaned from my shoes walking the Women’s March in 2017—infuses and activates the work, such as may occur with the aura of a beloved souvenir.


These artifacts and images become a palette of elements from which to draw while working in the studio. In my working with them, their context is altered. They’re transmuted. Solid objects give way to plays of light and fractured foliage; high-chroma shapes interweave with vacancies and tactile or visual textures; actual and pictorial layering explores and exploits real and false shadows; the removal of solid shapes gives way to portals. The splicing of specific imagery and materials, and formal elements such as shape, line, and color, result in work that pivots on the cusp between realism and abstraction.


The collages, for example, collapse moments of my immediate existence into diaristic dioramas re-contextualizing time, place, artifacts, and experiences. They take the form of top-hinged, enmeshed booklets, fanning out from the top such that—in addition to shadows depicted in the collaged imagery—shadows are also cast by the layers of paper onto and against each other. Some depict the front walkway of my home, a threshold I cross often, spliced with other photographed elements from my studio or daily life. The collages inspire my recent mixed media paintings. I see them all as one extended conversation about movement among modes of being. For me, they reframe the concept of the landscape, and my place within it.


On the whole, my work is an exploration of speculative fictions about my own and humanity’s connection to place and mark upon the landscape; through it, I strive to capture the balance between gravity and lightness.