Sarah Sutton

Sarah Sutton

Associate Professor, Department of Art
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

Specialty:Painting, Drawing, Interdisciplinary Curriculum
Office: Art Studio
Ithaca, NY 14850

I am interested in disembodiment in contemporary culture as an effect of parallel paradigm shifts. The concepts of discrete entities, boundaries and borders have been perceptually and culturally challenged.  I am specifically exploring the impact of globalization and the internet, as well as recent research in biology that centers on bacterial symbiosis. How can we visually depict and explore our dynamic and symbiotic world in a way that is legible with out reinforcing binaries through conventions like perspective and figure ground?  My painting practice centers on the fluidity of boundaries using analog models of digital technology to construct complex still images.

Models are integral to my painting process. The three-dimensional collages of overlaid, chopped up, ripped and folded fragments of printed images depict many genres, including vintage and current advertisements, post industrial landscapes and scientific illustrations and images of bacterial samples from people and sites. Created and found objects such as architectural models, clothing, rusting metals, organic matter, minerals and sculpture fragments are also intertwined to create multiple landscapes. All are arranged over multiple layers of two-dimensional planes of plexiglass, I paint the layered  references from above- like an analog version of a layered Photoshop image.

From far away, the layered imagery appears to be a multifaceted surface, but from close up emerges a destroyed and broken dystopic, visual ruin. Through the paintings in this series I reflect on complexity in a global world. Something that looks to be in close proximity to something else may actually exist on a different layer and there are clues of this dissonance in the painting. I encourage the viewer to become an active and critical- to notice pattern and repetition, piecing together information and making connections when they are not obvious.

Although primarily a painter, I also research the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in particular the relationship between creative practice and ontology.  I have self-designed BA in Humanities from John Carroll University. My degree focused on 'Contemporary Thought', which allowed me to combine my interests in Continental Philosophy, Literary theory and Post-colonial Literature. I also have a minor in English. I have an MFA in Painting from Kent State University. My work has been represented by Leslie’s Art Gallery in Luxembourg, EU; and has been shown in Europe and across the United States. I attended the Millay Colony artist residency, as well as the Sante Fe Art Institute residency funded by the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

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