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Levi Prombaum and Sarah Crowner smiling in front of blue painting.
From Levi Prombaum
Levi Prombaum and Sarah Crowner smiling in front of blue painting.
Levi Prombaum, left, with Sarah Crowner

We sat down with art historian Levi Prombaum, who wrote the catalogue text to accompany The Sea, the Sky, a Window.

Hill Art Foundation: What are you drawn to in Sarah’s work?

Levi Prombaum: My introduction to Sarah Crowner’s practice was a sustained one: I worked for the curatorial team at the Guggenheim during the first years that her site-specific installation transformed the museum’s restaurant. Getting to spend hours with Crowner’s work, to live with it intentionally and informally, was pure joy. Since then, I’ve taken every opportunity I can get to see her paintings and her spatial interventions.

HAF: How did writing the exhibition text deepen your understanding of this project and Sarah’s practice?

LP:Writing about Sarah’s work deepened my appreciation of it in so many ways! But especially, I became more aware of the straight line between its serious, heavy-hitting formal and art historical experiments, on the one hand, and the spirit of light and lightness that animates it, on the other.

HAF: Was there anything surprising about working with Sarah?

LP: It was surprising to me just how generous Sarah’s environments become: both her studio itself and in her exhibitions. What do you call the energy that outstrips the “giving” pole of give-and-take? That’s where Sarah’s worlds are located.

HAF: Tell us a little bit about your art historical background.

LP: My PhD was about portraiture in the civil rights era, and in general, I love thinking across the fields of modern and contemporary painting and photography. I’ve gotten to work at a number of museums – the Guggenheim, MASS MoCA, and the Colby College Museum of Art – where I’ve also been pushed and inspired to think about the potentials of museums as transformative civic spaces.

HAF: What are you working on now? Any exciting upcoming projects?

LP: I’m co-organizing a survey show of Martha Diamond’s extraordinary painting with Amy Smith Stewart, which opens at the Colby Museum of Art in the summer of 2024 and then travels to The Aldrich in the fall. I’m also currently a Fulbright Fellow, based in Tel Aviv, working on a multi-year research project about the history of collecting and exhibiting Palestinian art in Israeli institutions.

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