Featured Artist: Sandra Bowden

Sandra Bowden is an artist based in New York, and also a former president of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA).  Bowden’s primary medium is print making, and she often uses collography.  This process allows Bowden to achieve a large depth of relief in many of her pieces.  You can visit Bowden’s Website here, where you can also purchase her work.  See an excellent, and much longer, introduction to Bowden’s work here.

A common theme in Bowden’s work is her use of the Hebrew language.  Many of her prints include densely organized groups of Hebrew text.  The text is largely unreadable, and it often appears as thought it has suffered the erosive effects of wind and rain, as one might find upon an old gravestone.  Perhaps Bowden’s most interesting use of text is her appropriation of the book as a sculptural form (see here).  But her use of text does not represent an unfortunate attempt to communicate a message, or even a message that has been lost through the contingencies of time.  Rather, Bowden renders the word as image.  This is text meant to be seen not read.

As the eroded presence of the text suggests, Bowden’s work speaks most directly to the text.  Simply looking at her prints, I find myself wanting to touch them.  The amorphous shapes and designs of the textual portions call out for more than visualization.  Adding a further dimension to the theme of text in Bowden’s work is the occasional presence of sheet music.  Combining text, image and musical notation in collages where none are predominate suggests the intricately connected nature of human sensation and bodily existence.

Her work often has an ancient and archaelogical dimension to it.  Indeed, many of her works evoke quite clearly the layers of earth and rock that an archaelogist, or (figuratively) an historian, must dig through to discover the object of their study.  As a result, her work sometimes seems to speak to us from a different time and place.  These are intimate works made with time, care and costly materials, and they are to be cherished.

Below are some examples of her work:

Law and Gospel

Sanctus

Israelite Tel Suite

Volume I and II


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4 Comments

  • Cole Matson says:

    These are beautiful. I especially like the profound simplicity of Law & Gospel.

  • Brian Moss says:

    Sandra’s work over the past several years is truly astounding. Her ability to speak into her work is unique as well. And her service to CIVA over the years has been inspiring to many.

    For those in the PNW of the USA my church, Maple Valley Presbyterian (near Seattle), is currently hosting her exhibit, “Word As Image.”

  • Jim Watkins says:

    Cole, thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you like her work.

    Brian, thanks for the heads up regarding her show at your church. If I were still living in Seattle, I would definitely go there. If anyone reading this comment is living in Seattle, I highly recommend that you visit Brian’s church in the near future.

  • Ned Bustard says:

    Readers may be interested to learn that there is a book on Sandra’s work available: “The Art of Sandra Bowden” edited by Dr. James Romaine. http://www.squarehalobooks.com/sandra.htm

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