Sarah McKenzie

My paintings capture architecture and/or the built environment in a state of flux. Past series have focused on suburban sprawl, construction sites, and abandoned, decaying homes and factories. More recent canvases depict hotel rooms and parking garages--spaces that are specifically designed to accommodate the temporary, accepting change and transition as a constant state. Along these lines, I am currently developing a new body of work that explores the architecture of exhibition space. This is the series that I have titled White Walls. The work is ongoing, but I have begun with images of art fair tents, minimalist gallery interiors, and video-screening rooms. The spaces in these paintings are at once austere and lavish; makeshift and highly controlled; impersonal and sacred. I am interested in the notion of spectacle and the role that architecture plays in orienting the viewer's experience of a work of art. These new paintings also bring up issues of access and audience. As with all my work, human occupants are notably absent from the scenes depicted, forcing the viewer to consider his or her own position relative to the image.

In their emphasis on geometry, pattern, and surface, my paintings hover in a zone between stark realism and abstraction. Playing with the materiality of paint, I apply both oils and acrylics to a single canvas and juxtapose various painting “styles,” deliberately undermining the illusion of depth and the unity of the completed image. My work often appears photo-realistic when seen in reproduction, but–seen in person–the painted surface asserts itself forcefully, and the viewer is able to dissect the process by which the image was made. This is important to me. I care deeply about making paintings–physical objects with which the viewer will have a direct, visceral relationship and response.

Sarah McKenzie's work has been exhibited at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Yale School of Architecture, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and the Aspen Art Museum and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (Summer 2016). McKenzie recently completed a residency at Ucross Foundation (Clearmont, WY) and a Colombel-Soros Printmaking Edition Award and Residency at Zygote Press in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012 McKenzie received a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant. Her pantings have been featured in Art in America, the New York Times, the Denver Post, the Huffington Post, Dwell magazine, and New American Paintings. McKenzie received her MFA in 1998 from the University of Michigan, and her BA in Film Studies from Yale. McKenzie lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.

  • Sarah McKenzie Vacancy (lithograph) Sarah McKenzie
    Vacancy (lithograph)
  • Sarah McKenzie Exhibition Catalogue: White Walls Sarah McKenzie
    Exhibition Catalogue: White Walls
  • Sarah McKenzie Frieze Sarah McKenzie
    Frieze
  • Sarah McKenzie Landscape 1 (Danese Corey with Dozier Bell, 2014) Sarah McKenzie
    Landscape 1 (Danese Corey…
  • Sarah McKenzie Still Sarah McKenzie
    Still
  • Sarah McKenzie Exit/Sign (Roberts & Tilton with James Hayward, 2015) Sarah McKenzie
    Exit/Sign (Roberts & Tilton…
  • Sarah McKenzie Entry (Mitchell-Innes & Nash) Sarah McKenzie
    Entry (Mitchell-Innes & Nash)
  • Sarah McKenzie Black Bench (MCA Denver with Paul Sietsema, 2014) Sarah McKenzie
    Black Bench (MCA Denver…
  • Sarah McKenzie Door to the River (Whitney Museum with Willem de Kooning, 2015) Sarah McKenzie
    Door to the River…
  • Sarah McKenzie Landscape 2 (Matthew Marks with Albert York, 2014) Sarah McKenzie
    Landscape 2 (Matthew Marks…
  • Sarah McKenzie Vitrine (White Cube, Mason’s Yard with Haim Steinbach, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Vitrine (White Cube, Mason’s…
  • Sarah McKenzie Gate (White Cube, Bermondsey with Mark Bradford, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Gate (White Cube, Bermondsey…
  • Sarah McKenzie Slant ("Women of Abstract Expressionism," Denver Art Museum, 2016) Sarah McKenzie
    Slant ("Women of Abstract…
  • Sarah McKenzie Loop (White Cube, Bermondsey Auditorium with Larry Bell, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Loop (White Cube, Bermondsey…
  • Sarah McKenzie Barrier (Frieze Masters, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Barrier (Frieze Masters, 2013)
  • Sarah McKenzie Interior 1 Sarah McKenzie
    Interior 1
  • Sarah McKenzie Scrim Sarah McKenzie
    Scrim
  • Sarah McKenzie View Sarah McKenzie
    View
  • Sarah McKenzie Park Sarah McKenzie
    Park
  • Sarah McKenzie Egress Sarah McKenzie
    Egress
  • Sarah McKenzie Gates Factory Window #5 (Long Grid with Pole) Sarah McKenzie
    Gates Factory Window #5…
  • Sarah McKenzie Exhibition Catalogue: Transitional Sarah McKenzie
    Exhibition Catalogue: Transitional