Artwork by Sarah Van Ouwerkerk

Artist in Focus

I was born in Wisconsin to a family of artists. Growing up in a rural community with row after row of cornfields and vast open spaces not only influenced how I saw myself, but also indelibly affected my perception of space, light, and color.

My earliest inspiration came from music. My mother introduced me and my sisters to a range of genres from Baroque to African folk music. I don’t remember a time when ideas weren’t explored creatively. When we wanted to escape our world, we ‘traveled’ by making things, playing music, painting, and drawing.

Later, during my art studies and practice, I learned to use the camera as a tool to combine the art of painting with photographic information.

As a teacher of photography, I want my students and others to understand that inspiration may be the seed that becomes a photo, but a series or project comes from deeper examination and hard work. When something in your work hinders you, consider it, but keep going. Regrets and second-guessing never help, just keep working.

Horses are special to me and have been the subject of my photographs for publications and exhibitions. Long ago, I volunteered, worked, and photographed for twelve years straight at a guest ranch where we drove horses across the White Mountains, Arizona. I also organized a long-standing annual event to bring horses to Brooklyn for students to photograph, draw, and paint their movements and poses.

Nowadays, I split my time between New York City and the Catskills Mountains where I ride and care for my horses. There is a balance between these two places, which I enjoy. One is high energy, and the other offers the tranquility and the open spaces of my childhood.

Sarah Van Ouwerkerk in foucs



Master of Fine Arts - Pratt Institute, New York, NY

Bachelor of Arts- University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Bachelor of Science- University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

“Solo Exhibition”- CAS Gallery, New York City, NY, 2019
“Birthday Suit”- Site Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 2019
“Solo Exhibition”- The Yard Gallery, New York City, NY 2018
“Picturing Family”- Yale University, New Haven, CN 2017
“Landscapes”-Site Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 2016
“Angels”-Better Being Gallery, New York City, NY, 2015
“Equus”-River Gallery, New York City, NY, 2014
“Horses”- River Gallery, New York City, NY, 2013, 2010
“Wallow Fire Images, AZ”- Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA ,2012
“Portraits”- Santa Fe Workshop, Santa Fe, NM, 2012
“Pony Express”- Frazier Museum, Louisville, KY, 2010-11
“Horse Beautiful”- Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY, 2006
“Equestrian Events”- Exhibit A Gallery, New York City, NY, 2003-2004

Van Ouwerkerk, Sarah and Swados, Elizabeth. “Epiphanies”. Conveyor Arts Publishing, 2019
Santa Fe Photographic Workshop. “Portraits”. A & I Studio, Santa Fe, NM 201
Van Ouwerkerk, Sarah. “Pony Express: The Remix”. Catalog published by the author, 2010
Klein, Kelly. “Horse”. Rizzoli Publishing, Oct. 2008
Van Ouwerkerk, Sarah. “Horse Beautiful”. Harmony House Publishing, Louisville, KY 2008
Van Ouwerkerk, Sarah. Horses in Art Magazine. Essay on horses and photos, Bowie, TX 2007
Smithsonian Magazine “Women in Sports” 2002
Frueh, Joanna, Stein Judith, Laurie Fierstein. “Picturing the Modern Amazon” Rizzoli Publishing, 2000


Professor, Full Time/Tenured, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY
Guest speaker, International Center for Photography, New York City, NY (2014)
Interim Chair, Photography Department, Pratt Institute, New York, City NY (2012-2011)
Chair, Media Arts Department, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY (2000-1993)
Associate Professor of Graduate and Undergraduate, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY (2000-1980)
Guest Lecturer, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY (1999)
Photography and Film Guest Lecturer, Diego Portales University, Santiago, Chile (1997)
Guest Lecturer, Cooper Union College, New York City, NY (1991)

Unwriting Nature Award - Center for Art Design and Social Resources, Nairobi, Kenya, 2020
Finalist -Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 2013
Kentucky Foundation for Women Grant, Pony Express Project, 2009
Pratt Development Grant, Pony Express Project, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY 2008
Best of Show- Somerset Art Museum, Somerset, England, 2006
Pratt Development Grant, Pony Express: The Remix 2001
Companion catalog to Frazier Museum Show, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY 2006
Pratt Development Grant, Pony Express Project, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY 2003
Susan Koppelman Award, “Picturing the Modern Amazon”- New Museum, New York City, NY, 2001
Pratt Development Grant, “Horse Beautiful Project”, Pratt Institute, New York City, NY,1997


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