About Sara Slee Brown

It has taken me a lifetime to gather my wits, time, and experience, put them together and finally express myself through my artwork.  

As a child, student, young wife and mother I focused on the needs of others and doing what was expected of me. I have no rebellious streak but I do have artistic talent and a deep need to express myself with it. Over the years this need had idled while others have been fulfilled. I have raised two children mostly single-handedly while my husband pursued his calling in medicine. Choices and promises that I made as a young woman proved to be extremely difficult to honor at times. The unexpected consequences of commitments and choices can be easy or difficult to handle. The unknown elements are always the most challenging to understand and resolve. Just as the kids were on their own and I began to think about creating some art, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The treatment for this included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for the next year. It was a difficult, scary time.  

Ten years agoI retired as graphic designer for the public library and began to seriously pursue my dream of a career as an artist. As an undergraduate and graduate student in painting I had been trained in the traditional methods and my early work had been oil on canvas. After working as a digital graphic designer at the library, I developed methods for combining and layering digital images in my computer with the eye and sensitivity of an oil painter. I developed my own method for constructing my current work that I call: 

LāDi: Layered Digital Imaging. 

  1. Digital photographs are combined, layered and edited in the computer to produce a design.
  2. The design is printed ontoarchivalpaper using an inkjet printer. 
  3. The paper images are cut and glued onto the canvas or wood.
  4. The finished collage is coated by hand with 4-5 coats ofarchivalacrylic varnish to create a lustrous finish which protects the paper from water, dirt and UV light. 


My work explores choices and promises that we make in life. It is an exercise in exploring the known versus the unknown; patience, waiting; the fear and excitement of thresholds and transitions. The work begins with something familiar and real. This represents the known.  Over, around and through this foundation I add other images or fragments of images that are not so easily identified.  When combined with the familiar they create a new reality which may not be as easily understood but nevertheless exists: a new perspective. The comfort of the familiar combined with the confusion of the unfamiliar creates a tension and energy that is an expression of my experience in the world. My focus is the fear and excitement of life’s thresholds and transitions.



2018Featured ArtistSummerBoulder Arts and Crafts Gallery, Boulder, CO 

2017Midcoast Fine Arts Gallery, Bucktown Center for the Arts, Davenport, IA, October-November 

2015Quad City Arts @ The Quad City International Airport Gallery, Moline, IL  

Iowa State University Memorial Union GalleryAmes, IA 

Gifts of Art – Taubman Gallery, University of Michigan Hospitals & Clinics, Ann Arbor, MI 

2014Brix Attic Gallery, Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar, Iowa City, IA  

2013Chait Galleries, Iowa City, IA  

Midcoast Fine Arts Gallery, Mississippi Valley Welcome Center, LeClaire, IA  

2010University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Project Art, Iowa City, IA  

2009The Studio, Iowa City, IA  

2003Charlene’s Gallery Ten, Gills Rock, Door County, WI 

1999Art Under GlassMidcoast Fine Arts, Rock Island, IL 

1998Art in the WindowsMidcoast Fine Arts, Rock Island, IL  

La Petite Galerie, Gallery Ten, Rockford, IL  

1996Artifacts Gallery, Iowa City, IA  

1985Iowa Gallery, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA 



2018Iowa State Fair Fine Arts, Des Moines, IA 

2017What’s Your GPS?, St. Louis Artists Guild, St. Louis, MO 

Horizon: Contemporary Landscape, Community Arts Center, Danville, KY 

Framework, Gilded Pear Gallery, Cedar Rapids, IA 

Dubuque Museum of Art 2017 Biennial, DUMA, Dubuque, IA 

Biennial Quad-State Exhibit, Quincy Art Center, Quincy, IL 

Elevating Nature, Oak Park Art League’s Midwest Juried Exhibition, Oak Park Art League, Oak Park, IL 

Art League of Hilton Head 2017 Biennale, Art League of Hilton Head, Hilton Head, SC 

The Walker Open Exhibition, The Walker Art Collections, Garnett, KS2017  

Small Works Exhibition, National Association of Women Artists Gallery, New York, NY 

Wet, Gallery Seven, Maynard, MA 

2016Concerning the Spiritual, Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO 

13th Regional Juried Exhibition, Freeport Art MuseumFreeport, IL 

 Horizon: Contemporary Landscape, Community Arts Center, Danville, KY 

West of Center, Northville Art House, Northville, MI 

In the MoonlightLanesboro Arts Center, Lanesboro, MN 

Blink ArtistsArt Design Consultants, Cincinnati, OH 

Benjamin’s BanquetChait Galleries Downtown, Iowa City, IA 

59th Rock Island Fine Arts ExhibitionFigge Art Museum, Davenport, IA 

51st Founders Juried Awards ExhibitionThe Naples Art Association at The Von Liebig Art CenterNaples, FL 

Boundaries, Borders, and ThresholdsKreft Juried National Exhibition, Concordia UniversityAnn Arbor, MI 

Small Works Juried ExhibitionLemonade Stand GalleryKey West, FL 

2015Midwest Summer: Light & WarmthCedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA 

Open RoadLanesboro Arts Center, Lanesboro, MN 

Art PrizeSt. Cecilia Music CenterGrand Rapids, MI 

Benjamin’s Buttons – Faces of IntensityChait Galleries Downtown, Iowa City, IA 

2014Art Comes Alive 2014Art Design Consultants, Cincinnati, OH  

2013 Portraits/42 displayLas Lagunas Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA 

2009-2013Small Works ShowChait Gallery, Iowa City, IA 

Commissions/Public Art 

2012BookMarks ProjectBook Art in Johnson County, Iowa City, IA 

A Book is a Present, The World According to Dan Gable 

2004Herky on ParadePublic Art Project, Iowa City, IA 

Rock ‘n Roll Herky, Hayden Fry Herky, Ronald McHerky, Liberty Herky, Harry Carey Herky, Olympic Herky 

2001 Overalls All Over, An American Gothic HappeningPublic Art ProjectCedar Rapids, IA 

MCI, Alliant Energy, Amstrong Race Realty 



2018First PrizeIowa State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, Mixed Media, Des Moines, IA2017  

Second Place, What’s Your GPS?, St. Louis Artist’s Guild, St. Louis, MO 

Honorable Mention, Quincey BiennialQuincy, IL 

Second Place, Small Works Exhibition, National Association of Women Artists, New York, NY 

2011 Purchase PrizeIowa City Public Library Purchase Prize Award, Iowa City, IA 2009 

2009Iowa Artists 2009, Purchase Prize Award Winner, EMC Insurance Companies, Des Moines, IA 

2006Honorable Mention, Museum of Computer Art, SeptemberDigital Artists Virtual Gallery, moca.virtual.museum 

2005 November, Featured Artist On-lineThe Galleries Downtown, Iowa City, IA 

2002 Merit AwardAesthetics 2002, Lindsborg, KS 

Featured Artist On-line FebruaryIowa Women Artists Oral History Project  

1997 Honorable MentionArt Guild of Burlington Annual Juried Show, Burlington, IA 

1995 Marquis Who’s Who of American Women, 19th Edition 

1990 Patron’s AwardMcCook Community College Annual Phi-Theta-Kappa Six State Competitive, Wrightstone Fine Arts Gallery, McCook, NE 

1984 Purchase PrizeA Celebration of the Arts at BrucemoreCedar Rapids-Marion Arts Council, Cedar Rapids, IA 


Art Festivals 

2017Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Holiday Fair, Madison, WI 

Greenwich Village Art Fair, Rockford, IL 

Historic Shaw Art Fair, St. Louis, MO 

St. Charles Fine Art Show, St. Charles, IL 

Webster Arts Fair, Webster Groves, MO 

2016University of Iowa Fine Arts Council Holiday Thieves’ Market, Iowa City, IA  

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Holiday Fair, Madison, WI 

2009 University of Iowa Fine Arts Council Holiday Thieves’ Market, Iowa City, IA 

2008 University of Iowa Fine Arts Council Holiday Thieves’ Market, Iowa City, IA 

1985 12th Annual Crown Center Art Festival, Arts Fest, Kansas City, MOA  

Celebration of the Arts at Brucemore, Cedar Rapids/Marion Arts Council, Cedar Rapids, IA 


Personal Appearances & Media 

2018Methods DemonstrationIowa Artisan’s Gallery, Iowa City, IA 

Featured Artist, Artsy Shark On-line Art Site, Spring, 2018 

2017Cover ArtCRUX: A Quarterly Journal of Christian Thought and Opinion, Regents College, Vancouver, BC 

2013Winter 2013 Issue Portfolio “Discoveries” Featured, Still Point Arts Quarterly 


Professional Affiliations 

Iowa Women Artists Oral History Project 


Graphic Designer – Retired, Iowa City Public Library, 

Iowa City, IA 1985 – 2007 



Senator Amy Klobachar, Minnesota 

Jennifer Fisher, Runnels, IA 

Meredith Lucio, North Bergen, NJ 

Steve & Judy Kaye, Wayland, MA 

Patrick Muller, Iowa City, IA 

Todd Pettys, Iowa City, IA 

Sally Scott, Iowa City, IA 

Mark & Betsy Roup, Crestwood, KY 

Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jabar Al-Sabah, Kuwait 

Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Dillon, Iowa City, IA 

Dr. & Mrs. Matthew T. Spragg, Iowa City, IA 

Dr. & Mrs. Rod Zeitler, Iowa City, IA 

Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Nowak, Carmel, IN 

Hills Bank, North Liberty, Iowa 

Mercy Hospital Hospice, Iowa City, IA 



Iowa Artisan’s Gallery, Iowa City, IA 

Lanesboro Art Center, Lanesboro, MN 

Octagon Art Center, Ames, IA 

St. Louis Artist’s Guild, St. Louis, MO 



1981MFA, Painting, University of Iowa, M.F.A. 

1980MA, Painting, University of Iowa, M.A. 

1968BFA, Painting, University of Michigan, B.F.A. 


Email: sarasleebrown@gmail.com

Website: www.sarasleebrown.com