Sara Novenson,Contemporary Artist, Santa Fe

Sara Novenson’s work has been exhibited extensively for more than thirty years in galleries, museums, and numerous one-woman shows. She has had solo shows in Zurich and Basel, Switzerland, Cologne, Germany and New York City. Novenson’s work has appeared as cover art on many publications and books worldwide, including American Psychologist. It has been used by UNICEF and published in many books, magazines, and newspapers, in the US, Europe, and Israel, including the Jerusalem Post and Lilith Magazine.

Her varied body of work includes a series of the Women of the Bible and Landscapes of the Soul: New Mexico and Israel.

Her widely acclaimed Women of the Bible series is available in hand-painted, limited editions of fine art, a high-quality book; Illuminated Visions: Women of the Bible, and a compelling, unique oracle set; Sacred Women Source of Light. She studied the Women of the Bible for Twenty-Two Years.

Sara works primarily with pastels. Her original pastel landscape paintings are available in limited editions. Some of the landscapes are bordered in Hebrew prayers and psalms, the words reflecting the emotion and gratitude she feels as she paints.

She lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she represents herself in her own gallery on East De Vargas Street in Santa Fe’s most historic district.

Sara speaks about her creative process

The Invisible Hand Brings Me Full Circle.

Many times I have been asked to speak about my art, my inspiration. How does my religion affect my art and does my art affect my religion? At this point in my life, the two are inseparable. This wasn’t always the case. Spiritual I have always been, being born Jewish was not a choice. I fled from the “religious” upbringing and legacy handed down to me by my parents and ancestors. It wasn’t until I married a Catholic Italian and moved to Germany in the ’80s that I became Jewish again.

To me, painting has always been like prayer. Whether I’m painting the landscape, a flower, or one of my women of the Bible, I feel as though I am part of the earth, part of something much bigger than myself. It is a prayer of giving thanks, an expression of gratitude for the beauty of nature and all aspects of our life. As I paint outdoors, where I live in New Mexico, everything seems alive with spirit, the mountains, the trees, and the rivers all have their own spirit and sense of being. As I work I often think of the native Americans, they too believe that everything is infused with life. Whenever I’m in nature, or in my studio painting, I feel most connected to spirit. I believe that connection is what drove me into painting. I have to express my gratitude, It has to flow through me somehow.

While I was living in Germany something different began to flow through me. Something else that had to be expressed. It was love. The hidden love for my culture and ancestors emerged. I had to honor them somehow. How can I express the void left by a thriving culture that was once here and is now gone? I was haunted by this. Many strange coincidences and occurrences drove me to express these feelings through a body of work. Clearly, an “invisible hand” was guiding me to fill this void. I began incorporating symbols from Jewish folk art into my work. This movement was practically wiped out by the Holocaust. Despite my Jewish upbringing and experience in America, I had never known it existed. The work was well received and extensively published on my return to New York. Over the years it has evolved and merged with my love of nature and the landscape. I created a series of landscapes framed by the beautiful Hebrew psalms, expressing thanks for the beauty of the earth which is what I feel as I paint. To make peace with my patriarchal upbringing I have created a series of Women of the Bible. I studied the stories of the women with a great female scholar, well versed in the Torah and the mysticism of the Jewish religion.

It has all come full circle. Living in Germany brought me back to my Jewish roots, to feel what it is to be Jewish, and to learn about my religion in an integrated spiritual way. And now the work itself is coming back to Germany. I feel it is a kind of healing. In a way, it is filling a tiny drop of the void. There is a silent spiritual presence behind it, a knowingness and a reason for the work to have happened.

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