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Emily Burke

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Burke's Statement:

Our world has become ephemeral, rectangular. Nothing is meant to be experienced for very long; all is fleeting. Like scrolling through the chaos of your morning briefing. We care for a matter of seconds. Our mindless behavior is the evidence of our consumption. In my work I ask the questions: What do I value? What is consuming me? Can I escape it?

Last year, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. When she told me the news, I comforted her as much as I could. Afterwards I got in my car and began to cry. I can’t fully explain how it feels to face the reality that you may have very limited time left with someone you love. That is a moment I felt true value in my life. It’s the moments that you could never capture or never explain. It is everything we take for granted.

In my work I use a CNC machine to create images of people in a visually seductive way, but on Masonite and MDF, which are inexpensive materials. The tool paths the machine creates are striking; they loop around shapes and create spiraling, vibrating patterns. The Masonite and MDF have a texture that the CNC machine cuts through incredible smoothly, so each cut is crisp. I paint these cut images with bright, vivid colors and collage pieces of trash onto the surface. These cheap materials become “pretty” and eye catching. I replace the eyes of the people in my work with fly eyes, creating this visual metaphor that we are flies in our disposable world. We swarm about fast food and social media. We don’t value anything; we thoughtlessly buzz around. Since the images are machine made, also speaking on this idea that we are lacking the human side of ourselves.

The desirable in our society is the dollar menu, Amazon Prime, Tinder. Cheap, fast, and shallow. We’re provided these things to “help”, but in reality it has rendered us helpless, dependent on these services that feed our desire for instant gratification. It has distracted us from value; the value in other people, our empathy, spirituality, etc. How do you separate these things, to know the real from the fleeting? Why should I care? What is keeping me from caring? We can only find these answers for ourselves, and I hope to stimulate the reflection.

Nicole Marchant

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Marchant's Statement:

Nicole Marchant focuses her work on family relationships and the environment that surrounds those intimate relationships. Marchant’s artwork has investigated the relationships between members of a family through her artwork by focusing on the mother-daughter relationship. This concept dissected the tension between mother and daughter during the transitionary phase of a daughter’s life where she creates her own identity as a newly established adult. In Marchant’s current project, Familya, she depicts her siblings in abstract yet tender paintings to create an intimate relationship between viewer and artwork. With this approach, Marchant comments on the generalization of the Hispanic population while also inviting viewers to get to know her siblings in a personal way and rethink the other of her people in contemporary society. Marchant experiments with humble materials in her artwork to depict the intimacy between family, as well as artist and material. In her current project Familya, Marchant works with homemade paper and hand constructed pine frames to create an accessible connection between not only artist to medium, but viewer to painting as well. The size of the paintings also works to reinforce the relationships between viewers. The small paintings encourage viewers to step close with the work and decipher what it is that is being presented. Marchant often makes us of the small scale of her work to create an intimate experience for the viewers.

Marchant’s work continues to investigate the domestic and the intrapersonal and interpersonal concerns within their, and many other, families. 

Shon Martin

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Martin's Statement:

My work focuses on my experience as an African American male, living in a society with stereotypes that limit the mobility of black bodies. Living in this stereotypical world creates a reality where African American males often follow behind in the work force, are susceptible to police brutality, and most significantly, are caused to pursue caution in every activity. I often deal with being seen as a threat and lesser than other races. These stigmas have impacted my life within both the physical and psychological realms.

In general, I work with photography and software to create images, which express my experience as a black man in America. I challenge these stereotypes by creating a new reality, where the color of my skin does not limit my ability or mobility.

Levie Rainey

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Rainey's Statement:

As we alter clay, it alters us in return. The more we spend time with a material, the more we become one with it. It wakes us up to existence. This is a process that we have to fully give ourselves over to in order to reap the benefits of it. We must allow it to form us without solely enforcing our will upon it.

Matthew 4:1 says that Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit. There, he was faced with temptation from Satan. For forty days, he did not eat. He was alone with himself and the Father. He was tempted with materialism, hedonism, and egoism. He fully gave himself over to the process of testing himself and being transformed by an environment stripped of everything comforting. By removing the distractions, he came face to face with himself and the Father. He fully gave himself over to the process of being searched and tempted, but exited the desert in closer communion with God.

I asked myself what held me back from giving myself over to the process of fully committing both to my faith and my role as an artist. For forty days, I prayed and fasted. Fear, control, pride, a Westernized idea of success and desiring validation from others simultaneous drives me and restrains me. Each time I entered the studio, I chose one of these ideas to mediate and pray on how to give up. The resulting pieces become markers of the time spent wrestling with that idea. Freedom from these restraints doesn’t come from pursuit of freedom itself, but from pursuit of the process of giving everything over to a higher power. 

Madison Rutledge

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Rutledge's Statement:

Through the use of domestic spaces paired with non-objective forms, I explore the connection between uncomfortable transitions and the dissatisfaction that comes with them. Concerns shift, new fear of the “adult” world beyond college looms over you like wispy tendrils ready to overtake, like sharp spikes uncomfortably pushing you further to a breaking point. Somewhere between the molds you are anticipated to fill and the expectations of those around you, there is a hint of getting stuck, of stagnation and all the things you miss out on because of these hindrances in life. I was always told to be myself, be my own person, but all of a sudden, I’m being told with marriage I’m expected to change my last name, to become a dutiful wife and have kids. Circumstances change, things fall conveniently into place while other realizations and concerns arise. Dissatisfaction dwells on you, be it dissatisfaction with your intelligence, your ability and physical appearance, or your place in the world, it is always there in the back of your mind. One must find ways to overcome these hindrances or succumb to the pressure and let it completely consume you. 


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