Emily Sullivan » Profile


Akron OH


Personal Statement

My most recent body of work, titled Dystopia, engages in a dialogue of concerns about my role in overconstructing printed-paper environments, resulting in their conceptual deconstruction. These installations
represent the cultural propensity toward customizing through artificial means,personal and public spaces to the point of their demise.
Pattern, color and form have been selected to represent the larger conceptual concerns of
the work. The patterns have been limited to some of the basic elements of design; line, square, rectangle and circle which allow for a diversity of shape, form and color interaction to occur. The other element within this series is the hexagon, chosen to represent design and architecture in nature. This shape alludes to the hive dwelling, the notion of colony, swarm, societal organization. As
well as the power, reaction and sophisticated group think that is innate to colonies of insects and subsequently referential to human culture and control. The hazard color palette serves as a signifier within the series. These colors have culturally represented an alert that danger is present. The goal is to impart an impression that something about each
space needs special attention. Just as wildlife uses neon colors as a signifier, denoting that despite the beauty in color or form an element of menace is present. Form is used through the work in a similar fashion to color and pattern. The forms are derived through observation of plants that grow in profusion. They then are combined with each
other to create composite shapes that are referential not representational.
In this series, I have taken liberty to select relative to my aspiration, form or color from the natural world, in accordance with consumer desire for customization. The presentation of this work has been executed in a way that engages with marketing tactics. The formats of viewing give reference to
current culture, which is constantly deluged with the display of products seeking to elicit impulse leading to purchase. Marketing seeks to exhibit products in idyllic arenas, and within quintessential or implied lifestyles. In this series, the methods of display function to solicit a similar inclination. Consumerism has
driven the impetus both to homogenize the environmental experience as well as to personalize it. As human beings we have a propensity toward customization and personalization of the spaces in which we live, work and play. In some instances this has been viewed as husbandry of
the environment for it’s preservation while conversely it is viewed as unnatural control of the landscape leading to its destruction. An example of this in contemporary culture is the creation and use of products categorically named Replascape, which is defined as “. . . a composite structure, part real, part synthetic, created when organic material is “optimized.” 1 This “optimization” of the organic has been used to create artificial landscapes for commerce and
pleasure. Through this body of work, I have followed the proposition that asks; at what point does the best intended, rationalized or seemingly logical imposition of personalization and design onto a natural space lead to an element of subversion within it? The use of framing, form and color combine to present contrived plastic spaces that mimic the natural. The viewer observes a
spectacle, a phenomenon and something that may create a desire, is coupled with an element of menace or danger.
Although the work contains a utopian appearance, it also functions as an ironic comment on an extortionate cultural desire to personalize what is ours. The title of the series, points to this utopian fall into it’s opposition. Manufacturing nature through mechanical processes in order to
create what is believed to be the most ideal situation, has become common practice.
1 The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping 619


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8 years 10 weeks
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