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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Mundane Nocturnal Sites Tell Story of Rural Life

Sarah Williams poses with a few of her works in studio

Do you more closely identify with a rural landscape or a bright city skyline? Your answer will probably inform your reaction to Sarah Williams' work. Williams is an assistant professor of art and design at Missouri State University. She is depicting the rural way of life through her oil paintings.

Open air paintings are often created in a serene location to paint landscapes, and she enjoys that experience. Since her paintings of residential and industrial buildings are nocturnal, she can’t do that - it’s dark enough she can’t see her paints, it’s cold and it can be scary. So she employs a unique process.

Through her paintings, she started to share the uniqueness and slower pace of the rural way of life, sometimes through an abandoned highway or a dark night sky against an aging industrial building. Recently she’s begun incorporating more residential settings into her work and experimenting with the feeling of voyeurism.

After moving from her hometown – a population of 4,000 – to the Dallas metro for her graduate work, she began taking these photos on her home visits and putting this inspiration on the canvas.

In February 2015, she had her largest solo show to date in Houston, Texas, at the McMurtrey Gallery where she showed more than 30 pieces.  She will have another at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles in Sept 2015. Williams loves the opportunity to speak to those who are seeing her work – especially in a large city. The reactions she sees usually reflect an individuals’ own experience, she noted.

To view selected works, visit

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.
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