Sarah Curl-Larson has lived almost her entire life in Chicago, where encounters with the natural world are few and rare. Chicago is beautiful. There are parks and bike trails that almost give one a sense of being completely engulfed by nature, but the city is always breathing into your ear. It is always there. This defines Sarah’s relationship with nature. She has never quite experienced it without the close contact of human beings, stuff being built, developed, and destroyed. The sensation is symbiotic, nature and city feeding off of each other, and no one is the real culprit, neither is truly innocent. Human beings play a marginal role in the grand expanse of the universe, and we should not overestimate ourselves.
Sarah likes to use bright, neon colors in contrast with uncomfortable imagery to portray the tension between the natural world and the world of human mediation. All of the subject matter in her paintings are residents of the environment, but are presented in ways you would never actually find them in the world. Nature is not perfect either; it can be as violent and cruel to its habitants as human beings can. People tend to view themselves as being apart from nature, but our existence and the things we touch and make are all returned to the earth- as well as ourselves. We only enhance the tension already present in the natural world, seeing ourselves as being in opposition to it while never being separated from it. Our belief that nature is perfect and eternal is a way of defining ourselves as the Other, the agent of the universe, and can be followed back as a constant thread through human history. One of the goals of Sarah’s paintings is to give agency back to nature, to let the birds and landscapes and human organs have their say in the construction of the world around them. We are not the only conscious beings out there.