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2008 Rochester Biennial, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York Melissa Sarat Painting Installations and Reviews exhibition curated by Director of Exhibitions Marie Via, with Curator of Education Marlene Hamann-Whitmore photographs by James Via, Rochester, New York
Rochester City Newspaper, Rochester, NY Published by Rebecca Rafferty on Jul 16, 2008 Navigating the lushly chaotic labyrinth of imagery in Melissa Sarat's colossal and explosively colorful oil paintings is like playing I Spy, or stumbling upon Dionysus' forbidden garden party. The packed picture planes are inhabited by the unmistakable abundant flora and fauna of her Louisiana childhood home, as well as masked and costumed individuals who combine themes of power and madness (the artist was raised on the grounds of a mental institution). Sarat's feral characters, which she describes as "fierce guardian archetypes," possess a certain knowledge behind wild eyes, and symbolically combine mystical religious influence with her concern for the harm we cause to the environment and our own health.
Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, July 20, 2008 Stuart Low • Staff writer ...Melissa Sarat stuffs each canvas with vibrant Mardi Gras scenes from her native Louisiana. Sarat's Louisiana landscapes bristle with toads in teacups and mellow pussycats with a huge catnip buzz. Start off your tour with Sarat's oil paintings, which are guaranteed to jolt you into a state of heightened funkiness. In the 1960s, they'd have been hailed as acid-trip visions. Yet they precisely re-create this Cortland County painter's Technicolor memories of Louisiana. Every inch of canvas is crammed with Mardi Gras masks, bird nests and wildflowers. Their unnaturally bright colors and unpredictable sizes have an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. "She appeals to all five senses in painting life's rich pageant," says education curator Marlene Hamann-Whitmore. "Her work is mostly female-centered: She uses herself, her two daughters and her mom as models.
Rochester City Newspaper, Rochester, NY ART: "Rochester Biennial" By Dale Evans on Jul. 18th, 2008 By far the most surprising to me were Melissa Sarat's paintings. At first I thought they were quilted. They are so bright and plump that they seem almost three-dimensional. Brimming with symbolism, they transported me to a steamy bayou, replete with drug-induced dancing. I don't know much about art, other than what I like and don't like. But her work, I just know it is good.
Indianapolis Art Center, New Orleans Table, 2009 featured an opening eveningfête de Mardi Gras with Buckwheat Zydeco Melissa Sarat Painting Installations and Reviews curated and photographed by Director of Exhibitions David Kwasigroh
"New Orleans Table: Paintings by Melissa Sarat" Indianapolis Art Center visual art review Posted on July 1, 2009 by Dan Grossman In the painting that gives title to this show, you see items that you might find in a New Orleans household during Mardi Gras. The warm colors of the depicted fruit and the cool blue backdrop create the kind of vivid contrasts that are common in Sarat's work. Such still life depictions, however, are the exception here (if you equate still with calm, that is). In “Talking Heads” (oil on canvas), there are, well, talking heads --on platters-- at eye level. As your eye travels upward, there’s a perspective shift so that depicted items such as eggs seem to rest atop the canvas, as if the canvas was a table and you were looking down at it. But this isn’t the only way Sarat toys with perspective. In the ominously titled "Post Tipping Point," a parrot dwarfs the human faces depicted while peering out accusingly, as if indicting us for our human-centered complacency. Through Aug. 23; 317-255-2464, www.indplsartcenter.org.
Indianapolis Monthly, July 2009, Best Bets Our editor's picks for the best events in the Circle City this month. Exhibitionist There’s nothing understated about New Orleans Table: Paintings by Melissa Sarat. The exhibit, coming to the Indianapolis Art Center, boasts canvases as loud and celebratory as the city it depicts. And what better way to mark the IAC’s 75th anniversary this summer? Sarat’s large-scale oil paintings scream with the vivid colors and dreamlike imagery of Mardi Gras. Through Aug. 23. Free. 820 E. 67th St. 255-2464 indplsartcenter.org.