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

Originally from the central Appalachian mountain region in northeastern Pennsylvania, the area I grew up in rests over flooded and burning mines and is surrounded by abandoned coal breakers and shake piles. The industrial world that had once meant so much for my grandparents’ generation is a dead metaphor, surrounding and tunneling underneath the town. Not only has the economy shifted from local to global, but it has also shifted from manual to virtual. I am fascinated by the parallel paradigm shifts created by globalism and the Internet, and the effect they have had on how we understand the places we once thought we knew. 

Constructed 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. 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.

News coverage of collapsed sweatshops blends with high fashion advertisements, bundles of discarded clothes from the thrift shop overlay images of dress patterns from the 1950’s. The spliced, sampled, and seemingly unrelated images and textures are combined in grayscale to create visual rhythms and resonances. 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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