Sarah Leuchtner is a Chicago-based contemporary artist working in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Born and raised in Chicago, she draws inspiration from city life and her surroundings, as well as iconography, contemporary culture, vintage signage, guilty pleasure media, and television. Leuchtner’s imagery includes an alphabet of imagined or found shapes and varying interpretations of the grid. Leuchtner works out of her studio in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Leuchtner received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016. A selection of her recent exhibitions in Chicago include; Lawrence and Clark Gallery, Hans Gallery, and Bianca Bova Gallery, as well as Northeastern Illinois University. She showed at NADA Chicago in 2020 and EXPO Chicago in 2022. Leuchtner was included in a museum show at The CICA Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea in 2020. She has also exhibited in New York at Below Grand Gallery (formerly Superdutchess Gallery) and at the International Centre for the Arts in Monte Castello, Italy. She had a solo exhibition, Midnight Mirage, at Belong Gallery (Chicago) at the end of 2022. Leuchtner has upcoming exhibitions at Goldfinch Gallery (Chicago) and Cleaner Gallery (Chicago) in 2023, and will be showing at EXPO Chicago in 2023.
Born on the cusp of a post-internet world, my work explores the cultural nexus brought forth from the turbulent inundation of symbols, icons, and iconography of an ever changing digital age. Using painting, dye, and collage, my work explores memory, nostalgia, loneliness, and the visual influence of signage and symbols through a painterly lens. My interest in the symbolic languages of culture — such as the emoji — lead me to create my own alphabet of imagined shapes. Each work begins with the development of a metaphorical and physical stencil which is then used across various mediums. These imagined configurations blend objects from my surroundings with historical or present day symbols creating a geometric and symbolic vocabulary whose repetitive application explores expressions of contemporary social consumption.
The materiality of my paintings is an imperative element of my work. I experiment with mixing dye and paint to play with translucency and opaqueness. Repetitive gestures and forms re-emerge throughout the development of the work — rendering it unclear, which marks and layers preceded the others. I utilize the grid in each work as a geometric and grounding presence within my compositions, which references the built environment and city layout of Chicago. My use of layering and mark making mimics the exterior walls of the city — marking the passage of time. Throughout my process, I have an impulse to work intuitively and create chaos by taking compositional risks without planning. The next step is then regaining control and order by resolving said risk. This process continues until the composition has a feeling of visual harmony and resolution.
In recent explorations, I have been building large-scale collage in a lattice-like structure, as well as cable tie sculptures created on a pixelated grid. Throughout the process of assembling small fragments together to make a whole has aided me in reflecting on current social issues and has represented the idea of “strength in numbers”.
I reflect on being an artist in the digital age and continue to contemplate my visual influences and daily inspirations.