"This painting is a formal treatment of my childhood memory of watching Popeye cartoons,
And just loving them. I remember the Sea Hag as having unrequited love for Popeye, and
She was therefore in a troubled psychological space. This psychological complexity
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ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
24" x 24"
“Don't be afraid of your own voice”
For Saundra Fleming, art is about communication and connecting to others. She aims to express her identity and life experiences through her creations and engage viewers in meaningful dialogue. “I love the way that art sparks conversations with others and creates personal connections.”
During her graduate studies, Saundra was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which began “a long journey towards learning to live with and eventually thrive with” this illness. Additionally, Saundra has endured family difficulties, including the loss of her father and the onset of Alzheimer's disease in her mother. In the wake of these tragedies, Saundra felt that she “needed to prove that there was meaning in life” and used art creation to re-grasp reality. Although her disability has led to significant financial challenges, Saundra has remained tenacious and resourceful--painting on found materials, wood scraps, reused canvasses from thrift stores, and other creatively sourced materials.
Saundra began formally studying painting at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1980s and received her MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992. In the time since, Saundra has continued to regularly produce and exhibit her work. A self-defined conceptual artist, Saundra calls her idiosyncratic style "comic surrealism." She often juxtaposes unlikely subjects and draws inspiration from the bright colors, quirky characters, and the natural world of her childhood in Louisiana and Texas. Saundra explores her identities as a lesbian and a resident of the American South in her work, examining these themes with an “intellectual, comic and philosophical bent.” She explains, “I do not paint what is merely beautiful, but what is distorted, comic, shameful or curious. Like all artists, I am trying to describe what it is like to be alive.”
Saundra considers herself a philosopher as much as a painter. “For me, art is about inquiry...I use drawing and painting to not just ask questions, but answer them for myself and those I care about.” In this way, painting often becomes an act of problem-solving for Saundra--an empowering and uplifting experience. “When I see that I can solve problems in my paintings, I generalize that to being able to solve other problems in my life.”
Saundra is excited to share her work more broadly and connect with others through ArtLifting. “Art is about connection and communication, and knowing that others are inspired or challenged by my work is a great source of comfort and motivation for me.”
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.