Tag Archives: sarah sutton

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sarah Sutton

Interstice Series on the way to Main Street Arts to be installed!

Interstice Series on the way to Main Street Arts to be installed!

I am originally from the central Appalachian mountain region in northeastern Pennsylvania. My ancestors on both sides were immigrant coal miners from Eastern Europe. The area I grew up in now rests over flooded and burning mines and is surrounded by abandoned coal breakers and shake piles. This industrial world that had once meant so much for so many people was, to me, a dead metaphorall around and underneath memeanwhile life went on.

fire-in-a-coal-mine-under-centralia-pa-irish-640x480

This intermeshing of worlds and realities continues to inspire me. I am specifically interested in how people internalize and pass on socio-historical traumas through generations, such as the Knox coalmine disaster in 1959. In a single day, illegal mining broke through the riverbed, wiping out the local anthracite coal mining industry. Decades later the consequences of that single day are still palpable- in the landscape as well as in the people who once inhabited it. Through the paintings in this body of work, I create a visual language that depicts the complexity of perceptionhow historical and internal experiences interweave and intertwine.

In this blog entry I am going to explore three thoughts on representation and abstraction and address how I see these categories as changing in the digital age; a conversation that greatly affects my work.

1. Excess and Overload as Abstraction

Typically, abstraction has been associated with reduction or abbreviationreducing something to its “essence”. However, I am interested in a different kind of abstraction. When there is an overload of information as with media saturation we do not process a “whole” or “essence” at all. The sheer quantity of images and objects creates a type of pattern-based processing, making it more difficult to focus on individual components and promoting more of a time-based processing. This is explained by Jeffrey Rian in the article, The Generation Game:

 A child born into the electronic age learns his or her way into the world under the influence of disembodied voices and images, piecing together a world in collage pattern that absorbs ‘everywheres’ and everywhens’ into a cacophonous present. With electronics, sensory life is made more complicated because of the abundance of unrelated sounds and images… Experiencing free floating and unanalyzed images, which are integrated as tactile experiences, may offer a level of familiarity, or low level stimulus that engenders a variety of memories…

-Jeffrey Rian (The Generation Game)

Wall of thoughts and inspiration

Wall of thoughts and inspiration

2. The Visibility of the Invisible

Spaces that once only existed as imaginary are all over the Internetfrom hidden corners of the Amazon, live broadcasts of acts of terrorism, webcams of outer space, to videos of surgeries showing the intricacies of the internal body.

After the advent of photography, painting began to explore the notion of the “unknown”internal worlds, complex and amoebic states, and images of the “otherworldly and surreal”. Since almost everything can be “seen” online, it has become more and more difficult to imagine the “unknown” as a singular image.

In my work, painting becomes a way to envision relationships that are seemingly impossible to imagine (even and especially on the internet), because they involve time, different perceptual and sensory information, and the subjective. Ultimately, I am interested in making an image that captures how internal experience and memories are projected onto the external worldwhich becomes personal and involves both recognizable and non-recognizable imagery.

Supplies in the studio

Supplies in the studio

3. Legibility of Illegible

In his book, Six Stories from the End of Representation, James Elkins contrasts the use of the blur in art to what it means in astronomy. Where artists often intentionally blur to obscure an image, astronomers look at skies full of blurs that have never been seen “in focus”. In fact, the paradigm of being “in focus” or legible vs. “out of focus” or illegible does not apply when looking at the sky, as sharpening can cause a loss of information. By moving pixels closer together or turning the lens to focus on one area, contours and shapes that exist in the spaces in between are lost. In this case, the quality of being out of focus leaves the register of human perception all together, and clarity does not necessarily mean seeing something better. I am interested in the paradox of making information less legible, less recognizable, and less reliant on gestalt principles in order to expand on ways of seeing.

 

See our previous post: A Studio Visit with Sarah Sutton

Upcoming Exhibition: The Opposite of Concrete

Main Street Arts is preparing for our next show in the main gallery space, The Opposite of Concrete: An Exhibition of Abstract Painting and Photography.

Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete, 2014

Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete, 2014. Left to right: Carl Chiarenza, Bradley Butler, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, and Patricia Wilder

This exhibition features five different approaches to making abstract imagery through painting and photography by Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (gallery director at Main Street Arts).

The opening reception for The Opposite of Concrete is Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 pm. For reception updates make sure to rsvp to our Facebook event. We hope to see you there!

Exhibition Dates: September 6–November 1, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 pm

 

For now, check out our blog posts on a few of our exhibiting artists:

A Studio Visit with Painter Sarah Sutton

An interview with Carl Chiarenza


A Studio Visit with Sarah Sutton

Sarah Sutton studio visit

“This process of translation creates a loss, distortion and fracture, yet the scrambled image becomes a field of possibilities-cultural hallucinations, and open-ended associations; a kind of visual ‘backmasking’.” — Sarah Sutton


This coming September and October, Main Street Arts will be showing an exhibition of abstract painting and photography called, The Opposite of Concrete. It will feature five artists, each with their own approach to making abstract imagery. The artists featured are: Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (myself, gallery director).

Sarah Sutton studio visit

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Ithaca to do a studio visit with Sarah Sutton, one of the painters in the show. You can see a glimpse of some of the work in progress to be included in this exciting upcoming exhibition.

Sarah Sutton studio visit

Watch for Sarah’s Inside The Artist’s Studio posts in the coming weeks to get some insight into her work. Until then, enjoy these images from her studio…

Sarah Sutton studio visit