Sally Hazelet Drummond (American, 1924-2017) was an early minimalist whose lyrical, contemplative paintings of countless tiny points of color seem to produce a light all their own. Originally from outside of Evanston, Illinois, Drummond studied at the Chicago Institute of Design and is believed to have been the first woman to earn her MA from the University of Louisville in 1952. After traveling to Venice on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1952-53, she moved to New York City, where she became a member of the legendary co-operative Tanager Gallery on East 10th Street. In 1958, after seeing a retrospective of Georges Seurat’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Drummond began to employ pointillism in her work. The resulting paintings of vibrant emanating light, which she continued painting for the rest of her career, were described by the artist as: “A radiant light using just color...no lines, no shapes, no background no foreground; no top no bottom. It’s just an experience of light reflected with color and value.” Although Drummond denied an intentional spiritual element in these cerebral, non-objective paintings, her lifelong interest in Buddhism is seen by some to be reflected in the meditative quality of her work.
Like many other artists, especially women artists, who were overlooked as the overwhelming tide of Abstract Expressionism swept New York throughout the mid-century, Drummond’s work was not fully understood or taken seriously by critics of the time. Today it is evident that her fiercely unique approach to minimalism makes her a category all her own, as her paintings expand the possibilities of what paint and canvas can produce. The effect, in her own words, is “like a humming, a drone, emanating from somewhere, a unified field, pulsing, energetic."