VAP2020-Q4 Words and Pictures

Conversations with the past: Sara Minsky

Using embroidery, photography, drawing, and memory, Sara Minsky engages in a conversation with her past. Minsky sits down with her memories, combs through them and speaks directly to her former self. She wrestles with heavy thoughts often unexplored and brushed aside. She sorts through the murkiness of memory, rather than suppressing its persistent tides. Time is strangely fast and slow in the artist’s work. She challenges our relationship to time, seeming to relinquish herself from its tight grip, if only for a moment in order to give herself space in the artwork.

Messages from her school notebooks provide entry into her earlier years when she lacked the tools necessary to process all that was felt. The work is vulnerable, a piece of notebook paper in a child’s handwriting reads, “I remember when I was at my grannys funral not just a raindrop came down eyes but a rain storm came down my eyes.” The pain of losing her grandmother is evident in this piece from the storm of tears the younger Minsky records in her school notebook. Words are circled revealing a child worried about spelling while simultaneously trying to convey the pain of loss. The artist reminds us how complex our emotional development is and how perceptive we are at a young age, how we feel deeply before we are even able to spell. It is evident this child needed space for her pain, a space momentarily found through writing the words down in her notebook. Now older, she gives this child more space validating and recognizing her grief—on the surface of a canvas.

The speed which time easily passes slows down in Minsky’s work. She painstakingly embroiders handwritten text onto the surfaces of several works. The text seems like something one would write in an intimate dairy entry, meant only to be seen by the author. Yet she takes her words a step further stitching them on the faces of her work. Her internal sentiments are now made visible; placing them into the world she gives them greater strength. 

In another piece, yellow legal paper is stretched through an embroidery hoop and hung by a thin thread. The piece reads, “You told me once I was a closed book. Fuck you. My body is not a metaphor and besides books are never fully closed when pages get torn out without permission.” Minsky gives her words even more authority by replacing the fabric of traditional embroidery, a craft that is commonly called women’s work, with a piece of yellow paper used by lawyers to make documents stand out. This piece questions power, why some people are given more of it, why words on fabric are read differently than words written on a document. At any moment the paper could have been ripped from the puncturing of the needle yet it survived, holding a message about pages torn without permission. The piece persists despite its worn edges, its message exists with greater strength because of the odds against it. 

Viewing Minsky’s work means joining her in a reconciliation of time. The pain of losing someone, the need to voice and give space to our thoughts, to not let them pass by without acknowledging them. The work is an example of how to feel deeply. She reminds us how delicate life is, how much of it is out of our control while insisting the power of our voices. 

She pauses time in order to validate it. Sara Minsky’s work investigates the complexity of time and questions the agency we have over it.

About the artist: Sara Minsky is New York City born and based interdisciplinary artist and educator. Her work explores memory, trauma, and family dynamics. Minsky holds an M.A in Art Education from The City College of New York and is currently an Artist in Residence at Trestle Art Space in Brooklyn, NY.  Her website is:

About the writer: Sophia Reed is a visual artist located in Kansas City, KS. She creates paintings and ceramic works that challenge cycles in the world. Recently she has been making ceramics works which  contrast her paintings flatness. Reed enjoys learning about and sharing other artists’ work. Her website is