Sarah Sutton

Sarah Sutton

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

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

My current paintings explore ideas of space- from how it is depicted on a flat surface to how spatial cues in a painting correlate with the way our bodies interface with the world. They depict a hybrid space, where memory, history, psychological projection, and the deep flatness of the Internet converge into landscape.

My paintings are based on three-dimensional collages that I make of overlaid, chopped up, ripped and folded fragments of printed images that depict multiple genres, such as vintage and current advertisements, post industrial landscapes and scientific illustrations. Created and found objects such as architectural models, clothing, rusting metals, organic matter, minerals and sculpture fragments are also included. All are arranged over multiple layers of two-dimensional planes of plexiglass, and viewed from above like an analog version of a Photoshop image.

This body of work references nuances of technology and the antagonistic relationship between capitalistic excess and the environment. The Internet democratizes information but conflates content. Time, space, and scale relationships; textures and perspectives are homogenized into a ‘retinal journey’ that the body is exempt from. In my paintings, news coverage of collapsed sweatshops blends with high fashion advertisements, bundles of discarded clothes from the thrift shop with images of dress patterns from the 1950’s. The spliced, sampled, and seemingly unrelated images and textures combine to create visual rhythms and resonances, resembling spaces woven together rather than singular narratives or hierarchical images. My hope is that viewers become visually absorbed, trying to untangle and connect shards of imagery and content which are recognizable despite the overall abstract image.

The scale of the paintings is integral to the experience of the content. The small size of the paintings filled with dense details beckons the viewer to enter yet there is an inherent barrier. The body is pulled close and then pushed back, as the viewer struggles to find the distance that brings the image into focus. Being able to see the whole of the painting gives the viewer the ability to enter and get lost, but with one step backwards the painting becomes a blurry field of gray, a complete object. The viewer is ‘re-acclimated’ to his or her own frame of reference, which encourages active and open-ended viewing.

Painting is inherently antagonistic to the digital in its tactility, connection to the hand, slowness and its static nature. Can the mark of the brush compete with the press of buttons? Can the hand keep up with the volume of images we see? Such questions inspire me to make labor-intensive paintings that require precision of the hand. My paintings are painted with intimate detail and precision, yet the content is obfuscated by the excess of details, constantly shifting figure/ground relationships dissolving into the next view that the eye focuses on, much like what happens when one experiences an overload of visual information.

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.

School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing