The day was brisk, but still warm. It was nearing the end of fall.
We stepped out of the cab to find a woman in front of a green door.
The façade looked like nothing special: just a small building with a nondescript door. On one side of the door, there were frosted glass block windows. We couldn’t see the inside of the building.
We entered an office and the woman—the Coordinator for Penn's Art and Culture Initiative— led us through the studio to find artist Sarah McEneaney in a chair eating a cookie, her dog Trixie by her side. She was relaxed, her face happy and bright. Inside the building was a treasure trove of art, books, music, and trinkets that Sarah had collected over the years. Despite its exterior, her house was anything but nondescript: her whole personality could be seen in the art hanging from the walls and the many animal ornaments (mainly dogs and cats) placed aroundher living room and studio.
Sarah talked of her recent travels to the Grand Canyon and elsewhere. She also elaborated on her art; her process. Each piece she painted represented part of her life, like a chapter in a book. Some were colorful. Some were dark. Some were red. They showed the time she was arrested with her sister while riding bikes in Center City, her time in a residency in Texas, the time she was sexually assaulted in her home—the very home everyone was crowded in, eating cookies and petting Trixie.
There were dozens of paintings of her home and Trixie and her recently deceased cats. Sarah was in these scenes too, drinking water in her kitchen or preparing to paint in her studio, never in the background, but never in the spotlight either. Sarah spoke of her experiences without a waver in her voice, matter-of-fact and confident.