Jul 21–Sep 25, 2022

Sarah Pater (47), On the Circular Track of Days


“Everywhere, in the day’s last, lingering light, liaisons and arrangements were being made. […] Love comes and goes, pitching its mansion. And on the circular track of days, it appears that Dread is gaining on Devotion every second.” ~ Joy Williams, Breaking and Entering

This exhibition of new work from Sarah Pater brings together two groups of paintings made during and in response to her time in residence at the Lighthouse Works.

For six weeks between late October and early December of 2021, Pater painted the view of the Fishers Island Sound through the window of her studio at the same time each day. Making these small paintings of the sunset was a way for her to structure her days and devote time to a direct, physical experience of the environment. To paint the changing light as the sun rapidly diminishes involves speed, immediacy, and memory. The shapes of clouds and the particular colors of air and light shift every second. Inevitably, the act becomes one of self-reflection and abstraction, a confrontation with time and looking, and a glimpse of the astonishing phenomena all around.

The cycle of five 12×16-inch paintings consists of more mediated and composed views. The paintings depict a series of still lifes with flattened, incongruous geometry but for a shared horizon. Sky, water, landscape, and the familiar blunted corners of omnipresent tech products frame hyper-still subjects — half a glass of water, some fruit — on an altar-like windowsill, painted reverently at real scale. The hand-painted, near-textureless surfaces lack visible sequential order in their construction, contradicting the layered mark-making that typically implies painterly time. Color bends from quotidian and observational toward experiential and uncanny. The subjects, when they appear, turn alien and alienated. Taken together, these paintings allude to the circular rhythm of days as they fold from evening into night and back out again.

The snake and the ouroboros — the symbol of a snake swallowing its tail that features widely in ancient iconography — often refer to the cyclical nature of death, life, and regeneration. Snakes can also evoke a chilly sense of lurking malevolence, the snake in the grass. Sometimes a snake is just a snake, a wild animal suddenly encountered on a trail somewhere, passing through.



Sarah Pater (b. 1987, Wilmington, DE) is a painter based in Philadelphia. Her work blurs the aesthetics of boredom and attention with daily experiences, painting tropes, and office-leisure-domestic design. Her paintings have been included in exhibitions at Orgy Park, Brooklyn; Brennan & Griffin, New York; FJORD, Philadelphia; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; 808 Gallery at Boston University, Boston; and RISD Museum, Providence, among others. Her work was featured in New American Paintings and she has been awarded residencies at the Sam & Adele Golden Foundation, Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency, Ora Lerman Charitable Trust, and others. She received an M.F.A. in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and a B.F.A. from Boston University.