2008 Rochester Biennial Reviews

Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY

see the Sarat gallery views

"Navigating the lushly chaotic labyrinth of imagery in Melissa Sarat's colossal and explosively
colorful oil paintings is like playing I Spy, or stumbling upon Dionysus' forbidden garden party.
The packed picture planes are inhabited by the unmistakable abundant flora and fauna of
her Louisiana childhood home, as well as masked and costumed individuals who combine
themes of power and madness (the artist was raised on the grounds of a mental institution).
Sarat's feral characters, which she describes as "fierce guardian archetypes," possess
a certain knowledge behind wild eyes, and symbolically combine mystical religious influence
with her concern for the harm we cause to the environment and our own health."

Published by Rebecca Rafferty on Jul 16, 2008

Rochester City Newspaper, Rochester, NY

..."Melissa Sarat stuffs each canvas with vibrant Mardi Gras scenes from her native Louisiana.
... Sarat's Louisiana landscapes bristle with toads in teacups and mellow pussycats with a huge catnip buzz.
..."Start off your tour with Sarat's oil paintings, which are guaranteed to jolt you into a state
of heightened funkiness. In the 1960s, they'd have been hailed as acid-trip visions. Yet they
precisely re-create this Cortland County painter's Technicolor memories of Louisiana.
Every inch of canvas is crammed with Mardi Gras masks, bird nests and wildflowers. Their unnaturally
bright colors and unpredictable sizes have an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. "She appeals to all
five senses in painting life's rich pageant," says education curator Marlene Hamann-Whitmore.
"Her work is mostly female-centered: She uses herself, her two daughters and her mom as models."

Stuart Low • Staff writer • July 20, 2008
Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY

"By far the most surprising to me were Melissa Sarat's paintings. At first I thought they were quilted.
They are so bright and plump that they seem almost three-dimensional. Brimming with symbolism,
they transported me to a steamy bayou, replete with drug-induced dancing. I don't know much
about art, other than what I like and don't like. But her work, I just know it is good."

see the whole review
ART: "Rochester Biennial"

By Dale Evans on Jul. 18th, 2008 at 1:00pm

Rochester City Newspaper, Rochester, NY