Alumni Spotlight – Sarah Esposito

Sarah Esposito is an artist and educator living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally raised in the Appalachian Mountains, her upbringing surrounded by nature continues to influence her work, which uses elements of painting and collage. Esposito is a 2022 alum of the M.F.A. Studio Art program at Kent State. We took a few minutes to catch up with this painter-turned-professor.

Q: You graduated from the M.F.A. Studio Art program at Kent State in 2022. How has your graduate program shaped your body of work? Any specific impactful projects, people, or professors?

During my time in the M.F.A. program at Kent State, my work was challenged technically and conceptually by both my peers and professors. This back-and-forth challenge helped form how I work in the studio and how I make executive decisions about my work on my own. Gianna Commito, Shawn Powell, and Janice Lessman-Moss are three excellent examples of educators and mentors that were always in intentional conversations with me about how to hone in work that is both successful and expansive. 

Q: Favorite memory from grad school? 

 While I have several favorite memories from grad school, one that is the most noteworthy is having a studio right next door to people that ended up being some of my closest friends. Having late nights that are dedicated to us painting and creating work that we can have conversations about at any hour of the day. Some of the best moments were being there from sun-up to sun-down, working in the spaces with outstanding people. It’s something I hold so close to my heart and will cherish forever. 

artwork by sarah esposito– large painting collage
 “A Tribute to the Tender Path,” 2023

Q: You recently had your first solo show “Into the Syncline” at KINK Contemporary in Cleveland. How was your first solo show experience? Any advice for emerging artists looking to exhibit?

The experience was so rewarding. It felt like I made work that was successful, and a direct product of how the M.F.A. program at Kent State taught me how to work, while also implementing new concepts I came to enjoy in the work on my own. My advice is to work on several works at once, especially when preparing for a solo show. You can move on and come back to a piece if you are stumped. This next work will be better than the last, so try not to get too hung up on one body of work. There will be so many more!

 Q: Any new and exciting projects you are looking forward to in 2024?

I am in two Two Two exhibitions– one at the Summa Health Hospital Barberton location opening in February, and the other being at Context Fine Art Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, that is opening in March. Moving into the summer, I will be a resident at an artist residency run by Alfred State College in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the month of June. In August I have a solo exhibition in my college town at a new gallery, Two Two Eight, in downtown Fairmont, West Virginia.  

Q: Alongside your studio practice, you are also teaching at Kent State. What course(s) are you teaching, and how does your studio discipline influence your teaching (and vice versa)? 

Over the past year, I have taught both 2D and 3D composition in the foundations program. While I was in graduate school, I taught drawing one. I have truly enjoyed teaching each one of these courses just as much as the next! I believe teaching foundations reminds me of the core disciplines of a creative practice and helps me problem solve with them as well as in my studio practice. 

Q: Any additional thoughts/comments you’d like to share?

I am so incredibly grateful that I had the education that I did as well as the community that is so supportive in school as well as out of school. Northeast Ohio and the artists that make up this area and especially those that come from Kent State are rich in connections, community, passion and drive, and I am so happy to be a part of it! 

POSTED: Monday, February 5, 2024 11:21 AM
Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2024 01:14 PM