In process and form, the abstract paintings of Sarah Irvin explore “the abilities and limitations of the mind and the simultaneous power and shortcomings of language.” Irvin initially writes phrases derived from family memories and her daughter’s first words in ink on non-absorbent paper. She then smears the cursive text with squeegees, wiping away any meaning the signs might suggest. While traces may remain, the “hidden words” are transformed into streaks and fields of color. Repeated angular patterns like folded or crumpled paper fan and spread down or across the page. Color swaths of varying translucency are punctuated by dark drips and lines of pooled ink. The smeared text illustrates the way in which memory and language form, disappear, and transform due to processes of learning, age, and disease, while the shifting forms poignantly suggest the blips, alterations, and confusion of the developing or deteriorating mind. Akin to X-rays, ultrasounds, or seismograms, Irvin’s works attempt to capture something internal and unseen.
Based in Richmond, VA, Irvin earned her MFA in Painting from George Mason University in 2016. Her works have been widely exhibited throughout the southeast and in New York and London. They are included in private and corporate collections including Capital One, the Quirk Hotel, and the University of Richmond.