Imagine being towered over by one of Sarah Peters’ mute, bronze hollow-eyed woman heads as if it were guarding your entrance to the Temple of Athena. Her cascading locks might form the columns of a gigantic gateway. Though Peters’ sculptures are not monumental but human scale, they trigger our imagination of monumentality through the familiarity of her references. What unites idols, totems, sci-fi movie props like Darth Vader’s mask, and public monuments to power, is a geometric paring down and refinement of complex bodily forms.

Their minimalistic geometry echoes ideals that are simultaneously both awe-inspiring and audience-diminishing, demanding worship but refusing to speak. According to Peters, it has become apparent how sculpture can be used to represent power. Whether it is the power of the State, Religion, Aristocracy, or even sculpture’s ability to control how we move through space, Peters is fascinated by the question of who controls it, how it is employed, and most importantly, how does that power formally manifest itself through the hands of the artist?

Peters, having grown up speaking in tongues in church, and involved with an extreme religious group as a teen, now clearly understands the patriarchal power of cults. Her experience in distancing herself has informed her previous bodies of work. She has studied the formal aspects of sculpture that communicate power, and they are compressed and embedded in these artworks. But Peters is also attuned to the power of devotion, and she considers female ecstatic expression as a feminist response to patriarchal control (she now says she speaks in tongues with her hands).

What interests her in the history of sculpture is not only power, but the possibilities of a human connection made through perceiving the mindful touch of hands, and a forgiving humor as expressed in the rear of her sculpture’s absurd eros. So instead of making us feel small, Peters' work returns our agency by making the dynamics comprehensible and intimate so that we can think, and yet still feel, without becoming overpowered or manipulated by our feelings.

(Text by Dennis Kardon, October 2023)