Sara Risley

Sara Risley

Milwaukee, WI


Born and raised in Elgin, Illinois, Sara Risley is a working artist living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She graduated with a cum laude BFA, concentrating on photography and film, from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas in 1977.  She enjoyed a 27-year career as a portrait photographer in Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.  Since retiring in 2011, she does art and writes as it pleases her.  She is greatly influenced by the Abstract Expressionists as is evident in her abstract photography, her paintings, and her collage work.  She has shown in juried shows and galleries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Florida, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri and her work is in private collections throughout the US.  She is an avid volunteer at Literacy Services of Wisconsin and at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.


Artist Statement

I am wildly attracted to that which disturbs the norm.  I adore the odd angle, the quirky outlook, the extreme emotion. My photography-based digital art disturbs the notion of what photography traditionally is.  

My images all start in camera-both SLR and cell phone. The subjects I choose might be from nature, my own paintings and collages, or any intriguing texture or shape I see while walking around my world. I use these mundane images-layering, saturating, manipulating-until they become an abstract expression only slightly reminiscent of their original source. By digitally disturbing the pixels, I create that which may disturb the viewer for its lack of easy answers. 

My creative process is playful and energetic.  The intense hues and sensual shapes may remind viewers of abstract expressionist paintings and lure them more deeply into the intricacies of my photography based digital art.

I love that the images I create may challenge viewers’ idea of traditional photography. 

Sara Risley, A Summer Field, 2022, Photography based digital image, 26" x 26" x 1.5"