Canines, kitchens and Katrina

"Katrina Installation," is a collection of personal stories, news articles, drawings, paintings, photographs and assembled debris from Woodward's friends' and family members' homes.

SARAH WOODWARD, who graduated last spring with a degree in psychology and a minor in studio art, recently began painting portraits of pets, a direction inspired by the recent death of her family dog. One of her clients is JEFF WACHTEL, senior assistant to the president, whose kitchen ceiling figures prominently in a feature in the Palo Alto Weekly. Woodward is painting a replica of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco “The Creation of Adam,” which features the Wachtel’s dog Cash in the roles of Adam and God. Woodward’s art extends beyond the animal variety.  Just before her freshman year at Stanford, Woodward and her family were forced to evacuate New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf Cost. They made it to Mississippi, but were still in the eye of the storm. She has created pieces from salvaged items she collected in Mississippi and Louisiana. “I arrived at Stanford three weeks after Katrina hit, and I’d struggled for a full year feeling disconnected from my home,” she said in an artist statement about a piece that was installed near Green Library from May to September 2007. The sculpture, called “Katrina Installation,” was  intended to “share what my family, friends and fellow New Orleanians had experienced in the days and months following the storm.”

The likenesses of Cash and other Wachtel family pets grace the kitchen ceiling.
The likenesses of Cash and other Wachtel family pets grace the kitchen ceiling.

In her part-time day job, Woodward works at the Mural Music & Arts Project in East Palo Alto, coordinating health education through the arts, and is thinking of pursuing a career in art therapy. For now, she’s got a kitchen mural to finish. “It’s a great story about a terrific young artist and our god-like dog,” Wachtel said of the Weekly story.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Woodward

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