Closeness does not establish intimacy. I grew up in New York City, always sharing space with people I did not know. The contradiction of physical density and emotional distance made me feel simultaneously alienated by and enamored with millions of strangers. I explore this conflict by making work that manifests invisible dividers and destabilizes familiar relationships, making the unknown known, and the known unknown. Inviting and forbidding, my work addresses issues of power, desire, vulnerability, and visibility. Through it, I disrupt familiar ideas about gender roles, sacred space and what it means to be the object of another’s gaze.

I make art that unsettles the viewer’s perspective. Physical walls and paths confront the viewer, creating spatial and visual relationships that shift and disorient. Screens conceal and reveal, protect and tantalize. I use them to blur the division between public and private, transforming what lies on the other side. Through screens I explore access and denial, isolation and inclusion.

I create encounters where the viewer must question how they fit into the structure, making the act of looking more self-aware. Scale, intimacy, and the body of the viewer are fundamental considerations. I use pattern and repetition as tools to engage the viewer’s eye and refer to historic tilework and sacred architecture. The quatrefoil is one of my favorite motifs; I have seen it in decorations around the world, and to me this universality makes it powerful.

Sarah Gross