Introduction by Kaitlin Pomerantz
In some, the marks subdue his features, and he is reduced to a shadow of his former self. In one, the scrawling is like a tornado, consuming him. In the image that says “Trumpet”, he is turned into one of the artist’s former dogs. In another, the scribbles blend him into a neighboring shrub, and in yet another, he becomes a shrub. In all of them, the thick black marker points us to the presence of a huge mistake.
Taking pen to newspaper each morning, Sarah McEneaney eliminates the image of our 45th president. These daily acts are not so much drawings as purposeful gestures of erasure. Their immediacy and use of familiar materials give a sense that action is possible, using whatever is at hand. The ruptured, unstable images that the erasures create describe the lasting and far-reaching effects of this presidency, and its inability to be ignored or ever entirely forgotten. Bringing the act of exposing and dispelling fake news a step further, these works function as a call to action to adjust, edit, rectify the real news.
As a painter, McEneaney’s work deals with autobiographical topics, sometimes casual and enchanting like domestic, pet-filled interiors or star-studded desert skies, and sometimes haunted and difficult, subjects like cancer and rape. These newspaper scrawlings are not dissimilar in their effort to fuse personal and shared experience, and to try to make some kind of sense of it, or to find sense in the act of making.
What follows is a statement by McEneaney and a selection of the newspaper pieces to date, allowing us to reflect on these first hundred days of the presidency, and the resistance. Title Magazine will update this selection over time, creating a cumulative record of shared history and the artist’s response to it.
I love newspapers. For years I have gotten home delivery of the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. My ritual is to read the news with tea in the morning, arts and crossword puzzle with lunch. I am religious about it. In early 2016 I began reacting to newspaper photos of the insult, the affront that is Donald Trump by grabbing a Sharpie and obliterating him from the image. The altered newspapers go into the recycling bin. All I have are the photos I take. I didn’t even photograph some of the early ones, just did them to feel better- ha! I thought I’d be done with it after November 8, 2016. I will continue to resist: attend marches, send mail, make phone calls, donate money and obliterate the images of the horror that is not my president.
Sarah McEneaney, 2017
Sarah McEneaney, born 1955 in Munich, Germany, attended The University of the Arts and The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. McEneaney’s paintings, drawings and prints are in many public collections including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Woodmere Art Museum, The Neuberger Museum SUNY Purchase, Rhode Island School of Design, Mills College Museum of Art, Johnson and Johnson and Microsoft Corporation. Awards received by McEneaney include an Anonymous Was a Woman Grant, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and residencies at Ballinglen Arts Centre, The Joan Mitchell Center, Chinati Foundation, Fundacion Valparaiso, MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. Recent group exhibitions include A More Perfect Union, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, #Pussy Power, David&Schweitzer, Brooklyn, NY , The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia and Intimacy!-Baden in der Kunst/Bathing in Art, Kunstmuseum Ahlen, Ahlen, Germany. Sarah McEneaney lives and works in Philadelphia where she serves on the Boards of Vox Populi Gallery, Callowhill Neighborhood Association and the Friends of The Rail Park. In 2003 McEneaney was a co-founder of the Reading Viaduct Project which in 2013 merged with the Friends of the Rail Park. The Rail Park will transform two long abandoned rail lines to a 3 mile linear park. Sarah McEneaney is represented by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York and Locks Gallery, Philadelphia.
Kaitlin Pomerantz is an artist and educator in Philadelphia, and an editor at Title Magazine.