Sarah West

American Narrative Painter/ Writer/ Fine Art Educator/ Activist

“…art opens ways for a better understanding”- Robert Henri 

Sarah West is an American narrative painter, art educator, writer and activist. She is founder of The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts (Smiths Station, Alabama’s premiere fine arts destination, established in 2008.) The art center is an all-inclusive multi-disciplinary space featuring an exhibiting art gallery, artists’ studios and a class studio which hosts year-round Two-Dimensional Fine Arts and Three-Dimensional Fine Crafts programs.  The art center is located near the Chattahoochee River in east-central Alabama. She is founder and chief instructor of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art’s Studio and Cultural Outreach Programs including ART IN SCHOOLS ( a program that makes fine art education accessible to school students in rural Alabama communities, small cities and historic communities including Salem, Smiths Station and Loachapoka, Alabama. She is a writer and cultural arts advocate with over 300 articles published via her column with The Citizen of East Alabama (Alabama’s largest weekly distributed newspaper,) and the Opelika Observer (one of the regions oldest publications.) On behalf of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, Sarah serves as preferred artist and fine arts curator to the City of Smiths Station. In 2018, she was appointed Official Artist for the City of Smiths Station. She has also served as writer and host personality of Art Walks, a cultural arts initiative periodic television program, made possible through collaboration between The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts and CTV Beam Productions. Sarah maintains her studio at the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art. She mentors numerous students each year through studio classes hosted at her art center, and has provided thousands of Alabama elementary students with fine art education and cultural arts enrichment through ART IN SCHOOLS. She travels extensively, writes and paints daily.

Extended Bio-

Sarah West’s portrait and illustrative work exemplifies deep rooted traditions in American art. Her career began in portrait. With pencil and paintbrush she found ways to unravel atmospheric contemplations upon canvas. In 2008, she opened The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art in Smiths Station, Alabama. The Sarah West Gallery is Smiths Station’s first independent fine arts institution for Continued Fine Arts Education for all ages, and skill levels. The gallery is also home to Miss West’s, Alabama studio. As a long time advocate for the arts, and recognizing a need within the rural Alabama community, Sarah began development of fine art courses for continued study in late 2008. Since then she has written and presided as chief instructor, over countless courses, classes and programs for Continued Fine Art Education. Over the course of her career, her art has developed through different mediums which has become an extension of her daily practice. These inform her visual art experience. In 2013, she accepted invitation to serve as columnist for the Citizen of East Alabama, (Alabama’s largest weekly distributed newspaper) and in 2018 she accepted the opportunity for regional syndication of her column through publication with the Opelika Observer. Upon this printed platform she established an avenue by which to not only write of culturally substantial things, points of artistic and civil conviction but also an avenue by which to begin a restorative endeavor to reintroduce published illustrative art to the community news publication. Prior to her acceptance of this position with the Citizen, she began penning pages. This approach became a habitual process which continues in her daily life. On travels and at home, she takes opportunity to illustrate often. Therein, both her advocacy for history, heritage preservation and her passion for civilization are portrayed. Her works were published weekly in the Citizen of East Alabama, and Opelika Observer, and are available in Limited Edition Archival Print at the Biltmore Estate (America’s Largest Home & National Landmark for Historic Places in Asheville, NC.) Sarah has served as an Exclusive to Biltmore Artist. She has served as illustrator for the Historic Cedar Crest Victorian Inn of Asheville, NC. She has created works in support of the Stewart County Historic Society, and she has created works in support of both the F. Scott & Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Museum (Montgomery, Ala) and the Doc & Merle Watson Museum (Sugar Grove, NC.) Private acquisitions of her work have been made in support of the above mentioned organizations.

In 2016, her illustrative work combined with her background in portrait, and historical address evolved into American Narrative Paintings. The initial suite of Civility Paintings debuted December 14th, 2019 at the Alabama State Capitol. As the Solo Exhibiting Artist chosen to represent Alabama during the ALABAMA 200 Bicentennial Celebrations, The Civility Paintings Debut Exhibition continued through February 2020 in commemoration of the National Women’s Suffrage Movement Centennial. The Civility Paintings were recognized as listed state events with the ALABAMA 200 Bicentennial and National Women’s Suffrage Movement Centennial. The Civility Paintings Debut Exhibition was also featured as part of the Collector’s Focus, American Art Collector December 2019 edition.

Sarah works in most traditional mediums with a primary focus in graphite, ink, gouache, oil and egg tempera. Her Narrative paintings are in oil. Her archive includes new interpretations of Renaissance, Flemish and American masterworks, regional sketches and formal studies, pen illustrations in the style of etchings, portraits and more… Within her work prominent cultural figures have emerged including, Ramseur Records artists The Avett Brothers, Singer/Songwriter/Storyteller Jim Avett, and Folk Music Legend, Doc Watson. In the Summer of 2016, Sarah’s portrait of Doc Watson received debut exhibition at the Doc & Merle Watson Museum. Sarah’s work not only commemorates the achievements of iconic cultural figure but also raises awareness for places of historic significance. She has rendered representational works depicting historic homes as well as state and national landmarks.

Through her work she has served as supporter and contributor to the F. Scott & Zelda Museum, The Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm (Concord, NC) in collaboration with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and the Doc & Merle Watson Museum. She has served as contributing columnist for the Citizen of East Alabama and The Opelika Observer with over 300 published works of aesthetic sketch, docu- and educational short stories and cultural arts philosophy. She continues to serve as chief instructor of most programs offered at the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts. She has served as Cultural Art Advocate for Fine Art Education through ART IN SCHOOLS, her program which continues to make fine art education accessible to schools. She is a steward of sustainability, an advocate for culture, history, nature and heritage conservation. She is designer who places emphasis on the importance of ethical farming and the importance of agrarian preservation and continuance. She travels often and extensively, paints daily and is currently working on a book.

Sarah serves as an elected member of the Society of Illustrators, and is a supporting member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, and the Brandywine Museum of Art. She continues to further her studies through experiences in the arts. She is a founding board member of the Smiths Station Historic Commission contributing to the establishment of the Jones Store- History Museum. She continues to serve as Appointed Official Artist to the City of Smiths Station, Curator of Art for the City of Smiths Station- City Hall Exhibit Galleries.  She has served as a supporting member of the Women’s Philanthropy Board- Cary Center for the Advancement of Studies- College of Human Science- Auburn University. She has served as art instructor to the Columbus Museum of Fine Art in Columbus, Georgia.

Her involvement with others, observations, research and life experiences lend themselves to her furtherance of self and continued contributions to the world. Above all she is an explorer of life, intent on rendering the things from her time and capturing them in a way that they might benefit, enrich, enlighten and inspire the lives of others.


Fine Arts Affiliations

The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art

Society of Illustrators NYC

Biltmore Estate

 City of Smiths Station

Smiths Station Historic Commission

Penland School

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

The F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum

The Doc & Merle Watson Museum

Women’s Philanthropy Board- College of Human Science- Auburn University

The Citizen of East Alabama

The Opelika Observer

The Columbus Museum

See Archive ( Artist’s page) for Professional Development, Career Chronology, and Early Career Affiliations

See Current Work, under the Artist’s page