Sarah Witt is the artist behind @Switt_Art, and has used lockdown to paint everyday to keep her distracted from the unexpected twists and turns of life at the moment. Sarah also works as the Sales and Events coordinator at Coin Street, a social enterprise based in Waterloo.
Growing up I always wanted to be an artist but noticed so many of my artistic inspirations were men. Even writing this blog, I considered artists within the LGBT+ community who have inspired me, but I’m sad to say I couldn’t think of a single queer female artist that was representative of my style.
If I had to associate my art with an era in Art History I would say abstract expressionism; thick textures, vibrant colours, and spontaneity being at the heart of all my work. I recently took the plunge and created by own art business, Switt Art. I have slowly but surely been selling my art since the start of this very extraordinary year. Painting gives me so much joy and I’ve never found “work” so easy…
Switt Art's Colours of Coral (2020)
When you consider the renowned abstract expressionists of the mid-twentieth century, you cannot help but feel that it was a predominantly heterosexual male period. That said there must have been women, queer or otherwise, who were artistically expressing themselves in an abstract way.
It was all too easy to recall the names of David Hockney, Gilbert and George, Francis Bacon, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg… There is no doubt that all of their art has greatly influenced my own style, but why didn’t a single queer female artist make it into my Art History curriculum. I’ve decided to use this blog as an opportunity to educate myself, and hopefully you too.
This all brings me to Betty Parsons. Betty was a prolific queer artist, born in New York in 1900. The Betty Parsons Gallery opened in Manhattan in 1946 and became famous for representing the ‘four horsemen’ of abstract expressionism, as she herself called them: Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Whilst managing her own gallery, Betty took every weekend off to make her own art at her beachfront studio in Long Island. She said art was her ‘relaxation’ and she loved it for its own sake (1*) – this is something I can relate to. Betty died in 1982 and her art finally achieved acclaim in the long-overdue New York retrospective, (2*) “Invisible Presence” in the Alexander Gray Associates in 2017. (3*)
Parson's Flame (1967)
As well as painting, I work for Coin Street, managing gallery@oxo and the raw rusty warehouse that is Bargehouse. I would love to diversify the range of artists we work with to ensure that everybody is seen and heard.
During this Pride Month, it is more important than ever to find ways to show support for one another and express our true selves. If you’re an LGBT+ artist, and would like to exhibit in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Equally, if you love creating too, feel free to send me a DM via my Instagram, I’d love to hear more about your work!
Gallery enquiries: email@example.com
As part of Pride Month 2020, Crossbeam and Waterloo Festival are presenting a blog, featuring LGBTQIA+ artists and those who hold LGBTQIA+ art dear to them.
Josh Mock, curating the series, writes:
"It is my hope that by sharing the stories of diverse artists, we can appreciate and celebrate all those who strive to use art as a vehicle for LGBTQIA+ inclusion, activism, and advocacy."