Sarah Page and Nazifa Islam Exhibit at the Loft

DissidenceThe Advocate Loft will be showing two new artists this month, namely Sarah Page and Nazifa Islam.

Page, a native of Texas who moved to Oregon after attending the Art Institute of Houston in 2006, finds inspiration in the empty void of space around her subjects, and specializes in portraits with dramatic lighting and sharp contrast. The human form is her muse, as she feels that all people are beautiful. “Different ages, shapes, sizes, and colors all have something interesting that inspires me,” she explained.

Page also works in photography and graphic design, which she studied in college. The current style template of The Advocate is based on her original layout and design. She’s also in charge of Midnight Muse, a magazine highlighting the work of artists in the Pacific Northwest.

During the day, Page works with an organization in Salem called Partnerships in Community Living. She loves her job, which requires her to assist adults with developmental disabilities. “It’s cool,” she said, “because even though I have to ‘adult’ and have a day job, it’s something I care about.”

Page was originally spurred to make art as a child after seeing a Monet exhibit. “I was enthralled,” she said of Monet. From a very young age she studied the masters and became obsessed with Neoclassical painters like William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

With help from school friends who sat for her drawings, Page soon learned the difficult trade of realistic painting. “I would take their pictures and pose them,” she said of her classmates. “I got in trouble once for making my friend take off her clothes because I was trying to paint her just like Bouguereau,” she added, laughing.

Though she said she’s shy and often feels disconnected from the rest of the world, Page loses her inhibitions in art and sees it as a form of catharsis. Exploring her own visual landscapes helps Page work through feelings of deep isolation that stem from her fear of not being able to have children.

This month Page is showing several newer paintings and a photograph or two. Her calm, cerebral portraits come in cool blues, blacks, and violets. Solitary, dispassionate subjects appear to search for closeness while surrounded by a seemingly infinite atmosphere of space that is empty apart from galaxies of glittering stars. She describes her vision of these lonely but beautiful creatures as one of warm solitude existing within a dark vacuum.

These days, Page looks to fantasy worlds rather than the classics of her youth. She loves Dungeons and Dragons because of the creativity and innovation it allows in creating unique characters. “A lot of the artwork I’m drawn to I can imagine on an 1980s white van,” she said. “That’s the kind of art I like, that’s what inspires me.”

Page added, “I think it’s a big mistake to compare your work to others, because no one can recreate what you’re painting. Nobody will ever create what you were meant to create, and no one can feel the feelings that you feel, so no one can ever share the things that you were meant to share.” Though she insists she’s still searching for a unifying theme in her art, Page’s revelations about the artistic journey point to a woman who is already finding her way in the world and knows what individuality truly means.

1feca6_e16cfbc3482e4af4af379daf67899b81Nazifa Islam, a young poet, will also be showing art at the Loft. Islam, who grew up in Michigan, recently completed her master’s degree in writing at OSU. She has already published numerous works including a collection of poems called Searching for a Pulse, which is available to buy at Grass Roots Bookstore.

Islam’s small abstract acrylics are reminiscent of post-World War II Pollock on a miniature scale. Thickly layered, yet smooth to the touch, Islam’s canvases are collections of spots and swirls of neutrals, blacks and blues superimposed alongside warm greens and yellows. Her work is action-based and Rosenbergian in the way that the movement of her hands, as she flings down drops of paint or tilts each canvas just so until the paint swirls together in a marbled effect, is categorically dependent upon her mood.

Islam sees art as not only a joyful venture but also a useful one, and plans to sell her unique, stippled cell phone cases on Etsy. Islam is a true Renaissance woman—despite the fact that she considers writing to be her career, she’s explored painting for several years and is excited to have her very first show. The enjoyment she finds in the pure expression of painting is evident in the refreshing simplicity of her work.

Page’s website, which includes her own work as well as links to her magazine,
can be found at You can see Islam’s paintings along
with links to her poetry at her website,

 The Corvallis Advocate Loft is at 425 SW Madison; enter west of Einstein’s and head upstairs. Thursday, Nov. 19, from 4 to 8 p.m. Free.

By Kiki Genoa