Sarah Irvin

Sarah Irvin | Cyanotype

Educational Background/Training

  • Master of Fine of Arts in Painting from George Mason University
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia

About the Artist/Ensemble

My work has been featured in more than twenty solo shows, as well as more than fifty group exhibitions, across the United States and abroad, and is included in the collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Capital One, Four Seasons Hotel, Federal Reserve Bank, and Royal Caribbean, as well as the private collections of Quirk Hotel, Try-Me Urban Restoration Project, and the University of Richmond. In 2016, I founded the research project,  a searchable database of artists making work about their experience with reproduction and caring for their children. I am represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Massey Klein Gallery, both in New York City. In my practice, I work from my experience with reproduction to reveal the relationship of durational events and material objects of child-rearing to larger systems such as the economy, language, and social relations. My work manifests as drawing, painting, printmaking, book art, sculpture, video, installation, and alternative photographic processes.  Conceptually, I complicate the voyeuristic art-historical iconography of motherhood, considering the philosophical, biopolitical, and artistic dialogues about reproduction and child-rearing from the position of a female parent as the speaking subject, not the visual object, of the work. This is not a subjectivity produced solely by gender or biological sex but through a durational attunement to a particular other: the child. 

My interdisciplinary work covers topics of postpartum mental health, infant care and feeding, the material-semiotic engagements between parent and child, care work in the greater economy, pedagogy, and caregiving during the pandemic. An investigation of knowledge production emerges as a throughline in my practice across a wide range of mediums and topics. My intention is to disrupt hierarchical dualistic concepts of producer/reproducer that are troublingly aligned with the concept of male/female binaries by continually creating and transgressing meaning-making boundaries materially in the art object, revealing these as constructed, provisional conventions rather than inherent or immutable facts.

Educational Program Description

This 2-3 hour cyanotype workshop will begin with a slideshow overview of the history of this unique alternative photography process. Students will be introduced to the work of Anna Atkins, who was the first to put the process into use, as well as contemporary artists working with cyanotypes, focusing on Virginia artists. Students will learn how Atkins used the process to document all species of algae on the British Islands and pioneered the use of photographic processes as a naturalist and artist.  After a brief explanation of the cyanotype process itself, participants will be invited to work as Atkins did, exploring and examining their surroundings to collect natural materials in order to produce their own cyanotype print.


  • College/University Students
  • Adults
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