By Becky Shea
Sarah Meyers Brent’s “Salvaged Garden” inhabits its own space at Kingston Gallery through August 2. This sectioned off room is more preferable for Brent because she is able to encompass all four walls with paintings and installations. Her installation, “Salvaged Garden,” stretches across one entire wall and the tips of the vines and running paint lines touch the floor. She had sketched a shape of “Salvaged Garden” on the wall before hanging it.
On the other three walls are paintings. Brent paints by placing the canvas on the ground and working on top of it. These paintings certainly do not come across as flat when hanging on Kingston’s white walls. The flowers, vines and mounds of dirt are three-dimensional fixings that reach out to the viewer in this enclosed space and bring them closer to the beauty of Brent’s work.
Once these flowers, vines and mounds of dirt lure the viewer in, they will see that there is more to Brent’s work than dried flowers and acrylic paint. A lot of the objects she incorporates into her work are found around her home. For “Salvaged Garden,” she used an old pair of gardening gloves and paint rags.
Some of her pieces have old toys and craft supplies that belonged to her children. She also reuses a lot of supplies from past projects. Her “Overgrown Canvas IV” painting begins with flowers sitting on the top of the canvas and what looks like dirt and colors from the painting falling off the bottom. It becomes obvious upon looking at her work closely that this is not just a garden. Brent explained that she captures the moment between life and death. Viewers can look at her work from top to bottom or from bottom to top.
In another painting, “Overgrown Canvas III,” it does not matter what end the painting is viewed from because the wilting flowers at the top are just as beautiful as the glob of dirt falling off the bottom. By standing in the center of the room, one almost becomes emerged in Brent’s own life.
After years of teaching, Brent follows her own frequently shared advice to have a reason for making any creative decision. If a painting isn’t symmetrical, why is this so? Brent explained that she had an easy childhood growing up, but that experiences in her adult life, including grandparents dying, miscarriages and complicated pregnancies, have influenced her work.
Her work has a very relatable feel to it. She told of one woman who stared for a long time at “Ode to Pregnancy” because the woman was deciding if she wanted to have children and was hugely impacted by the painting.
Imagine being impacted by “Ode to Pregnancy” and then turning around to find “Salvaged Garden” and being just as impacted by it. This is the feeling of standing in the center of Brent’s space at Kingston Gallery. It allows for the viewer to become completely immersed in Brent’s art and its meaning with no distractions from other artwork or who is walking past the window on the street. No matter if someone stands in her space for a few moments or hours, it is entering a world made by Brent and that is all the mind can focus on.
(“Sarah Meyers Brent: Salvaged Garden” continues through August 2 at the Kingston Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave. #43, Boston, Mass. For more information, call (617) 423-4113.)