Sarah Gamble

Philadelphia, PA | by April 13, 2012

Sarah Gamble, a Philadelphia artist originally from Charlotte, NC, received her MFA from The University of Pennsylvania and was a Pew Fellow in 2009. Her work has shown at (e)merge art fair in DC, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia and PS122 and The Painting Center in New York. She has also participated in numerous residencies including Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Atlantic Center for the Arts.

I visited Sarah in her studio: the spare bedroom of a South Philly row house. Two large windows fill the room with sunlight. In this modest space Sarah churns out a large volume of paintings. One wall displays the many pieces she created in the last two weeks—most are small pieces, around twelve by fourteen inches. She is inspired by this high level of production by Gabriela Vainsencher, who makes a painting every day before doing anything else.  Gabriela’s project and blog is called Morning Drawing.

We talked about her recent enjoyment of Coast-to-Coast, a radio show dealing with UFO’s, strange occurrences, life after death, and other unexplained (or inexplicable) phenomena. I quickly saw connections between her work and the themes of the shows. For example, several of her paintings include faces with colorful lines and dots protruding which is her interpretation of extrasensory perception (ESP).  She was also keen to point out that her work is based on collective life experiences rather than one in particular.

Her cat Buster also seems to be a huge influence on her work. During my visit Buster ran through several times jumping on the desks in the room knocking over paint and mixing bowls. Sarah didn’t mind which seems to make Buster a perfect studio companion.

Sarah’s current color palette is a reaction to her feeling like her past work had every color available. She now restricts the colors in the paintings by only putting a few on the table as she works. Black, greys, and browns dominate with bright colors such as orange, yellow and green for highlights. She also purposefully combines “clashing” colors to introduce contrast in the paintings creating an intriguing effect in the work.

She has also recently started incorporating figuration into her work. Until recently she only painted landscapes, but felt the urge to discover the inhabitants of her mystical worlds.

Although I have seen images of these landscapes online I think a show of the collective works is necessary. Find more of Sarah’s work at

This piece had editorial assistance from Tiernan Alexander.

Video Edited by Raul Romero of See/Saw Productions.

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