Artist Statement

I create large-scale self-portrait drawings using pencil on paper. These drawings are meticulously-rendered, elaborately staged and illustrative works that use dramatic and expressive poses as well as visceral symbolism as a conduit for both personal and universal narratives.

I walk the line between the reality and the artifice of the self-portrait. I do not view self-portraits as mere illustrated recreations of the self; I frequently use my self image as though I were an actor under the affectation of a role. Sometimes I am a stand-in (for the collective of civilization and a participant in the transgressions of humanity), sometimes I am simply playing myself and these works are detachedly recording minute personal stories as though from a journal.

Truthfully, I create my self-portrait drawings out of a compulsion to document and compartmentalize both fleeting thoughts and emerging prescience. Although some of my drawings can be construed as social commentaries, I do not view art as a catalyst for the transformation of society or as having the ability in itself to make social change. Rather I see art as a reflection of society which we can use as a means to identify and delineate our own beliefs and views, our own stories, and personal histories. By using the traditional medium of pencils on paper, I purposefully disengage from technology to find a more fundamental and corporeal means to explore private subjects and thoughts; by the use of the self-portrait, I am seeking a candid and sometimes awkward intimacy with my drawings.


Creative Process

My ideas emerge from numerous sources. Sometimes I will hear a short phrase or read a fragment of text that prompts visual imagery. Sometimes I will see a person make a gesture that strikes me as intriguing. Occasionally, ideas come to me as fully composed images. I record all of these ideas and images in my sketchbook. If I find myself preoccupied over one specific drawing in my sketchbook and I keep redesigning and rearranging it, then I know that it has potential as a large scale drawing because it has my attention. At this point, if necessary, I take photographs and find props that I can use as a reference for the final drawing. I use Arches hot press watercolor paper; although watercolor paper is quite durable for drawing, it has only a limited ability to be worked and reworked. For this reason, I do to-scale preparatory sketches on tracing paper to work out any compositional problems. Once I have the composition resolved, I will transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper. For drawing, I use leadholder-style drafting pencils because they can be sharpened to a very fine point. Although the drawings are large, I like to work with sharp, controlled marks that I layer, alternating with sharpened eraser to gradually develop value.


About the Artist

Sarah Petruziello was born in Athens, Georgia. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the University of Georgia in 1994 and dual Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Graphic Design and Drawing and Painting from the University of Georgia in 1991, graduating with Summa cum laude honors. She currently lives in South Orange, New Jersey, is an active member of the Exhibitor’s Co-op, an artist critique and exhibition group, and teaches drawing as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University. Her work is in the Presidential Art Collection at the University of Georgia and other private collections in the United States and Europe.

Sarah received a Grant for Working Artists from the George Sugarman Foundation in 2007 and was the recipient of a New Jersey State Council of the Arts 2006 Artist Fellowship for Works on Paper.


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