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Published: November 12, 2017 Author: E. J. Schodzinski

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio – Dayton artist Sarah Fleenor will be exhibiting her artwork at the Ohio University Eastern Campus Art Gallery through Dec. 7. The exhibit, entitled “Recessional: Twilight in Middle America,” will showcase her talents in painting. 
A reception for the artist will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. Fleenor will also present an artist’s lecture at 6 p.m. during the reception. 
Fleenor worked as a graphic designer before studying painting at Miami University (Ohio), graduating in 2012. The artist then went on to receive a master’s degree in fine artfrom Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. Primarily a painter, her work explores themes of psychological isolation and its relationship to consumer culture.
Drawing from contemporary marketing and branding systems, as well as 16th and 17th century northern European painters, she depicts scenes which grapple with the concept of life mediated through a lens of abject consumerism. Her current paintings are influenced by the economic decline in the Midwest.
“Growing up outside of Dayton during the eighties and nineties, I witnessed a change in the region resulting from the evisceration of American manufacturing,” she said. “I grew up in what is described as a farming community, but most of the small family farms were already a thing of the past. I didn’t attend school with the children of farmers. Instead, I grew up with children whose parents worked in factories where they made steel, and things like pickup trucks and corrugated boxes.” 
According to the artist, the withdrawal of manufacturing and the subsequent creation of the rust belt not only littered the landscape with the ruins of empty manufacturing facilities, but the collapsed economy also created a dearth of ambition that, among other things, gave traction to a rising heroin epidemic.
“I think of the Midwest in the same way as light fades at night, the receding is subtle but constant,” she said. “However, the premise of my work is not to document a failing economy caused by the withdrawal of industry in the Midwest. Rather, I’m interested in portraying lack, or the psychological void associated with this withdrawal.”
Fleenor is looking forward to the exhibition at Ohio University Eastern. “I am very excited to share my work and personal experiences with the students, faculty and larger University community,” she said. “I am hopeful that my message and work will help to inspire new talents and a better appreciation for the arts.”
The Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery displays the works of local and national artists, as well as of the faculty, staff, and students of Ohio University. It is located on the second floor of Shannon Hall and is open to the public 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is free. 
For more information, please contact oueartgallery@ohio.edu.

Pictured is artist Sarah Fleenor’s “White Castle.”

Pictured is artist Sarah Fleenor’s “White Castle.”