Sarah Hinckley grew up in Cape Cod, and her airy, sumptuous artworks reflect the sea and open skies of the geography found there. She also studied and worked in New York with its ongoing tradition of abstraction, which influences her current mature style which follows a path established by Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, both proponents of a painterly, poetic abstraction. This combination of openness and subtle nonobjective effect recalls both a particular locale or place, and a painting tradition that contributes to a present-day lyricism that feels familiar, made so by our awareness of an especially American point of view. However, Hinckley’s style is very much her own, driven as it is by an abiding concentration directed toward the minimal and reductive effects of contemporary abstraction. Her work cannot be said to exist as a series, yet similarities between paintings or works on paper indicate that her efforts are part of an encompassing whole. The large and open central spaces occur along a continuum that unifies our visual experience of her approach and thinking process.


Perhaps the most engaging aspect of Hinckley’s painting is the combination of her attraction for minimal or simplified imagery, combined with her penchant for creating a visually gratifying work of art. She does in fact do this, realizing the shapes in her art, which are usually organic in nature, link her paintings with an esthetic of elegant simplicity. Yet we cannot see the art as merely simple or reductive; instead, its eloquence and lyricism originate in the Hinckley’s willingness to present a unified field of painting in which the poetry of her observations, no matter whether they occur on the edge or in the center of her compositions, communicates the openness of an unobstructed view. The results are not so much an alternative as a variant on mainstream painting. Thus, her lyricism and her feeling for structure are equivalent. This means that the emotional content cannot be separated from its formal expressiveness, which can only happen when an artist’s work is both strong and compelling.


The paintings tend to be defined by their peripheral effects, while the works on paper are less sparsely populated. In both cases, the organic is emphasized--this is not hard-edged geometric work, although Hinckley’s soft-edge organicism is resolutely nonobjective. Today, abstraction in art remains viable, in large part because painters like Hinckley keep it alive in displays of imagery that both challenge our sensibility and at the same time address a need for a beauty that cannot be easily dismissed. Indeed, beauty is key to our perception of Hinckley’s art, which refuses any excessively easy avenue of attractiveness even as it makes its claims based upon poetics that can be linked both to the pastoral and the urban. Thus, the rounded shapes and more linear forms that coexist in her watercolors are interesting because they tied together by color. In fact, color should not be seen as a secondary, but rather a primary interest in her work, which retains a persistent reading of nature even as its repertoire of styles link it to historical and artistic advances in New York abstraction. This means that our experience of Hinckley’s accomplished sensibility is a complex one, aided by her persistent regard for shape and color’s ability to build nearly celestial (but also earthy) structures on their own.


Jonathan Goodman


Sarah Hinckley's childhood in Cape Cod with its salt marshes, beaches and ocean skies have long inspired her as an artist. After receiving her BFA from Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Hinkley moved to New York City to complete her MFA studies at Columbia University. It was during this time that Hinckley gravitated to the color field paintings of Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin creating canvases with wide swathes of colors that refer to nature but without its literal representations.


In spite of living and working in New York City, the natural beauty of Cape Cod continued to inform her paintings with subtle nods to landscape and botanical forms.  Painting with oils on canvas, Hinckley permits the process to shine through her work. Gravity pulls at the fluid paint leaving dripping edges or the casual rough skip of brushwork just skims the surface. Simple bands of color reference the complicated interplay of light and shadow and the texture of time on changing forms while reducing this natural symphony to a simple, elegant melody.


In 2016, after almost 30 years in New York City, Hinckley returned full time to Cape Cod. She alternates between larger paintings on canvas and smaller watercolors that often serve as studies for her oils. Sarah Hinckley's artworks have been exhibited widely throughout the United States with exhibitions most recently at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Mattatuck Museum, Calhoon Museum of Contemporary Art, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Littlejohn Contemporary, Chandra Cerrito Contemporary and Lanoue Gallery. Her work can be found in many corporate and private collections.


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• VOS Visual Art Source, July 2016. "Excerpts from the Natural World" by DeWitt Cheng.

• The Sunday Republican, May 2016. "Making her Mark" by Tracey O'Shaughnessy.

• The Country and Abroad, April/May 2016. "New Mattatuck Museum Exhibition 'Making her Mark' explores the presence and influence of women artists."

• Artscope Web Zine, March 2015. "Formal Aspects at the Cape Cod Museum of Art" by Phiannon Lee.

• Design, The ASID New York Metro Magazine, Fall/Winter 2014.

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• Artcritical, December 6, 2013. "When Hostility Turns Into Mannerism, Subtle Simplicity Offers Respite" by Franklin Einspruch.

• Barnstable Patriot, July 26, 2013. "Stillness of Remembering" by Mary Richmond.

• Cape Cod Art Magazine, Summer 2013. "Sarah Hinckley" by Amanda Wastrom.

• New England Home Magazine, Spring 2012. "Picture Perfect."

• The Litchfield County Times, September 23, 2011. "Pop-up Art in Washington" by Jack Coraggiom.

• Interior New York, July/August 2011. "Brooklyn's Best Kept Secrets."

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• Taos News, June 7 - 13, 2007. "Beauty Within" by Virginia L. Clark, Two Graces Gallery.

• Shotgun Review, 2007. "Juried Annuals in the East Bay at ProArts" by SR Kucharski.

• Southern Accents, July/August 2005. "Watersound Showhouse" page 106.

• Details, August 2003. "In the Works" page 92-93.

• The New York Times, Friday, June 16 & 23, 2002. Critics Choice, New and Noteworthy "Playground" Sears Peyton Gallery.

• The New York Times Magazine, September 30, 2001. "Handyman's Special."

• Home Magazine, November 2001. "White Light."

• O The Oprah Magazine, February 2001. "Comfort Zone: Take This Job...and Redecorate it."

• The South Advocate, 1998. "Beauty Returns to Contemporary Art" by Mary Bell.

• Interior Design, September 1997. "Forum in the Community."

• Interior Design, October 1996. "House Double-Steven Harris."

• The Columbia Spectator, 1990. "Make it New Art" by Tamara Cochran.