UA Little Rock to host MA Thesis Exhibit April 26-May 7

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host a series of paintings by Sarah Lassiter in her thesis exhibition. “Suspension” will feature around 15 paintings and be on display from April 26 to May 7 in the Maners/Pappas Gallery in the Windgate Center of Art and Design. Lassiter, who is graduating with a Master of Arts in May, uses painted and mixed media surfaces to explore the cognitive dissonance that accompanies trying to build a life in a world that is falling apart. Photo by Ben Krain.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host a series of paintings by Sarah Lassiter in her thesis exhibition. “Suspension” will feature around 15 paintings and be on display from April 26 to May 7 in the Maners/Pappas Gallery in the Windgate Center of Art and Design.

Lassiter, who is graduating with a Master of Arts in May, uses painted and mixed media surfaces to explore the cognitive dissonance that accompanies trying to build a life in a world that is falling apart. Aggressive marks created with a palette knife, the use of pure red and black, and surfaces of the paintings encrusted with bottle caps and aluminum beer tabs express turmoil and dread.

“’Suspension’ is a series of paintings inspired by my own emotional reaction to the strangeness of our times,” Lassiter said. “As the last few years have unfolded, the world has felt like an increasingly unstable place. I find myself between college and career, at a stage in life when I should be making long-term plans. But the sense that the future is precarious makes this type of thinking feel difficult, at times even absurd. Hoping to reach others who experience this halting effect, I’ve spent the last year and a half creating this series, exploring the cognitive dissonance that accompanies trying to build a life against a backdrop of uncertainty.”

Using interior scenes from the artist’s home depicts the way exterior anxieties invade daily life. The inclusion of both quiet scenes and noisier, more abstracted elements is a means of exploring the counterintuitive relationship between outer chaos and stillness. By exploring her struggles in such an open and vulnerable way, Lassiter invites others to let their own guard down, to reach for support and connection.

While Lassiter has enjoyed the arts since childhood, she didn’t explore art as a career until she took some classes at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, which made her feel as if a world of artistic possibilities had opened up in front of her.

“I think, deep down, I’ve always wanted to be an artist,” Lassiter said. “With art, the more you learn, the more salient the gulf between your skill level and what’s possible becomes, and few things are as satisfying as closing the gap between what exists in the mind’s eye and what you can create. The continual challenge is intoxicating. The drawing classes led to watercolor classes, which led to enrolling in post-bac art courses here at UA Little Rock, which led to pursuing this MA degree, where I’ve been learning oil painting. Art is what I always seem to come back to, and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity to pursue my creative interests.”

Following her graduation, Lassiter plans to use the time to practice experimentation and creative play in her painting.

“I’ve learned a lot in the past few semesters, and can’t wait to practice applying the techniques and concepts to which I’ve been introduced,” she said. “As excited as I am to be graduating, I feel as though my artistic education has only just begun. I would love to pursue further education in visual art within the next few years.”

The exhibit can be viewed virtually through the UA Little Rock Art Gallery website. 

The UA Little Rock Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patrons may call or email to confirm a visit to campus to view the exhibitions. For more information, contact the main office at 501-916-3182 or email Brad Cushman at becushman@ualr.edu.

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