This week’s cover features Sandra Bloodworth’s “Citrus Salad.” The Mississippi native says that she has been drawing since she could pick up a crayon. As Bloodworth matured as an observer, and as an artist, she became interested in abstraction and later moved toward figurative subjects to portray everyday life. Bloodworth is the director of MTA Arts & Design, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s award-winning public arts program. Since the program was launched in 1985, its team has worked to turn New York’s century-old transportation network into a first-rate museum. Arts & Design serves over 8.7 million people who ride the subway and commuter trains daily, and it strives to create a meaningful transportation experience.
What was your inspiration for “Citrus Salad?”
This painting captures the first meal my husband Fred May and I had with new friends who we met through serendipity. I did a radio interview about MTA Arts & Design with Margot Adler for NPR. We toured the subway talking about the art, but eventually the conversation turned to food and life. She connected me with her good friend Susan. My husband and I later had dinner with Susan and her husband Jerry. The meal included a citrus salad with thyme vinaigrette.
How do you go about starting a new piece?
The paintings usually begin with a concept driven by the season, local food availability or a food idea from my husband, who is a wonderful cook. This often means a trip to the local fish market and roadside farmstands, and always includes a quick visit to our garden for herbs and flowers. I look at the meal as “performance art” as I create the tablescapes for the meal’s backdrop.
How have your years in New York influenced your work?
My energy meshed with the energy I found in New York. The cityscape, the people, the culture and street life was the fuel I needed. When I moved to New York in 1980, it was as if I had come home, and my work from that day on reflects this. You see the influence of New York more in my portraits. Living and working in the city has provided the opportunity for me to meet some very interesting people. My portraits are of artists, writers, curators, poets, designers and performers, all of whom I have crossed paths with, however briefly.
I joined MTA Arts & Design in 1988 and have served as the director since 1996. During my tenure, we have commissioned countless works of art to be installed in subway and rail stations, while maintaining a clear and focused role as the MTA’s voice for quality urban design. There has been an enormous growth of art installations in major hubs like Times Square and the Atlantic Terminal, as well as newer transportation projects, such as the Fulton Center, the 7-Line Extension and the Second Avenue Subway.
Tell us a little about “Intimate Feats,” your solo exhibition in Jamesport.
The inspiration for my “Intimate Feats” series comes from the desire to capture the essence of meals my husband (and muse) and I create for ourselves, family or close friends. One day, a friend was sharing a meal with us and said, “that’s what you should be painting.” That comment led to this series of paintings that capture shared meals. The show at William Ris Gallery features over 20 of these paintings. The work has been said to have a “sugar rush of color” and that’s what you experience when you see the work on the wall.