Santa Cruz artist Sarah Sanford combines photography, printmaking, drawing and installation to create hidden worlds of biological landscapes and scientific abstractions. Intrigued by the scientific process in which intense investigation of minute subunits is integral to understanding the whole picture, her work transitions between macro- and micro-cosmic worlds.


Sanford’s practice focuses on exploring the physical nature of light. She is interested in the ephemeral and ethereal aspects of light as a means for studying time, space and chance. By refracting light through various surfaces, Sanford generates seemingly random, yet ordered patterns of light relating to forms present in the natural world. She captures these transient images through digital photography. Incorporating the process of photo-silkscreen with various digital techniques, Sanford uses the contrast between darkness and light to create abstractions of space reminiscent of both natural and human landscapes. Her images reference medical scans, x-rays and microscopy as well as celestial bodies. She is interested in creating ambiguity within her work whereby the viewer connects with it on an aesthetic level, but is unable to fully commit to a singular interpretation.


Sanford frequently works in large series. She enjoys creating pieces that connect to one another. By bridging the individual to the collective whole reaffirms her ongoing interest in the scientific process.


Her most recent body of work, Lightfast, explores the passage of time as an annotated linear experience, as well as a series of memories. Layered images of prints on Japanese Kozo paper and film give the illusion of a portal into mysterious landscapes. By contrast, her screenprints on treated paper seek to capture the elusive nature of light; highlighting single moments of time spent and gone.