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Artist reimagines scenes from her wedding


By Ridhika Agrawal
Photo by Takahiro Omura

A series of new paintings by Sara Peak Convery decorates the wall behind the espresso machine at Saints Rest.

Convery attended Grinnell High School back in the early 80s, but she truly became inspired in the subject matter of art while in New Zealand as an exchange student during her senior year of high school. Despite having moved away from Grinnell since, Convery still makes sure to display her work in her hometown.

“I have had work at Saints Rest off-and-on since 2009, I believe, but generally [a] small selection of pieces, not really a group of related works,” Convery wrote in an email to The S&B. “I have also had shows at the old Grinnell Community Art Gallery, which no longer exists, and the Grinnell Art Center, the former Stewart Library, but I think that more people come into Saints Rest than make the trip across the street to enter a gallery.”

The selection currently on display at Saints Rest, entitled “My Wedding”, has specific personal relevance to Convery.

“About five years after my wedding, I decided to revisit the photographs that were taken and make paintings from some of them,” Convery wrote. “There was lots of drinking going on, which started early because the officiant forgot to show up. At the time I started the paintings, I was feeling rather ambivalent about my marriage, so it was a way to contemplate and revisit without words.”

Drawing upon her own experiences for inspiration, Convery’s work carries a sense of connection to the artists’ life and emotions.

“I have done a lot of self-portraits and work where I have used myself as a model. I have also painted and photographed my family a lot,” Convery wrote.

Her passion for art can be traced back to an early age, where she began to take an interest in art as emotive expression.

“I always liked making things. When I was young I used my mother’s sewing machine to make clothes and bags and also did some fabric applique,” Convery wrote. “Words are powerful but not always adequate or useful means of expression. I like to find ways to use both.”

Coupled with her strong interest and deep personal connection to her work, Convery has developed a unique creative process.

“I tend to paint very quickly but often there are long spaces of inactivity. I am not a ‘paint every day even if you don’t want to’ painter,” Convery wrote. “Often I do not return to a painting after the first session and I find that those are often the ones I am most satisfied with.”

Convery does not, however, fail to recognize some of the challenges that artist’s face in today’s world.

“I think any artist faces the difficulty of being able to pursue what they want to do artistically and making money. There are virtually no federal support systems in place, which is unlike many other countries in the world,” Convery said.

Convery hopes to continue working out of her studio in East Garfield Park, Chicago, Ill., and perhaps eventually working with the hours of interview footage she acquired for her “Grass Widow Sod Widow” documentary project. Pieces from “My Wedding” can be purchased at Saints Rest through inquires to Convery at or 773-405-7365.

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