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Sabra Field: Abstract Realist

 

Sabra Field: Abstract Realist, a retrospective exhibition of woodcut and iris prints by the celebrated Vermont artist Sabra Field, remains on view through Sunday, August 11, 2002.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Field grew up in the greater New York metropolitan area and attended Middlebury College, where she studied with Arthur Healy before her graduation with honors in the Arts in 1957. Thereafter she received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with an emphasis on printmaking at Wesleyan University. From 1962 until 1967 she taught at The Taft School, Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1966 her work was shown at the F.A.R. Gallery in New York, New York. (left: Sabra Field, Dairy Barns, 1999, woodcut, 4 x4 inches, Courtesy of the artist)

Field moved to East Barnard, Vermont, in 1967 and began exhibiting in the same year at Gallery 2, in Woodstock, Vermont. In 1968 she had a solo exhibition in the newly inaugurated Christian A. Johnson Gallery at Middlebury College. She established the Tontine Press in East Barnard in 1969 and had a solo exhibition at the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, in the same year. In 1970 she added a new studio to her home, and in 1980 a gallery space. Since 1973 she has been a featured artist at the Vermont State Craft Center, Frog Hollow.

From 1972, when she published 14 prints that combined text and images of the 23rd Psalm, for exhibition at the Stratton Arts Festival that year, Field has emphasized landscape imagery in her art. Her work has been shown widely throughout the state and in such prestigious exhibitions as the Silvermine Guild of Artists (New Canaan, Connecticut), the Print Club of Philadelphia Annual, the Miami Graphics Biennal, and the Boston Printmakers exhibition. Over the years Field has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Vermont Arts Council grants and the Extraordinary Vermonter Award, as well as the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from her alma mater, Middlebury College, in 1991. She has been commissioned to create images for a wide range of institutional clients, including the Billings Farm and Museum, Woodstock, Vt.; Dartmouth Medical School; IBM, Burlington, Vt.; Middlebury College; Shelburne Farms; the U.S. Postal Service; Vermont Educational Television; Vermont Law School; Vermont Public Radio; and Vermont Life Magazine. In 1991 and 1993 she designed stained glass windows for the chapel at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire. She has won commissions for murals from Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth College, and Norwich University, Northfield, VT.

Among her publications are illustrations for the poems of Jenepher Lingelbach, Before Life Hurries On (University Press of New England, 1999), and Sabra Field: The Art of Place, by Tom Slayton, (University Press of New England, 1993). A revised second edition of the monograph by Slayton will be published concurrent with the Middlebury exhibition. On Saturday, June 1, 2002 the College will host an informal talk by the artist at 10:00 a.m., in the Concert Hall, Center for the Arts. (left: Sabra Field, Central Park Sotlth I and 11, 2000, woodcut, 28 x16 inches each, Courtesy of the artist)

For more than thirty years Sabra Field has refined her skills of observation and cultivated an astonishing ability to recall images -- "collective shared images," as she describes them -- of the Green Mountain state. Field's art is a bridge between reality and abstraction, connecting the two realms while celebrating her abiding love of the natural world.

The 78 images in Sabra Field: Abstract Realist were selected from more than 500 that the artist, her family, and a number of her friends have made as gifts to Middlebury on the occasion of her forty-fifth reunion. An inclusive retrospective of her career, the exhibition provides the public an opportunity to enjoy some of the artist's most ambitious and best-loved works as well as to encounter sorne of her earlier, more provocatively political works from the 1960s and 1970s. While these may offer surprises, in both style and subject, they are also perfectly consistent with the artist's ongoing quest for spiritual meaning and relevance in her art. Above all, these images serve to remind us of the poignancy and enduring value of Sabra Field's uncluttered pastoral vision, and of the idealized and harmonic view of nature it evokes.

 

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