Interview by Sean Cully
Five Questions for Artist Stephanie Sherwood:
The title of your long running series is “Confine,” which depicts amorphous shapes contained within a grid. The meaning and significance of confinement has taken on a whole new resonance as we all find ourselves living in quarantine. Can you talk about how or whether our new COVID normal has affected the way you think about this series?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. When I first began the Confine Series, I was really dialing in on these two elements: the soft organic forms and the rigid structural forms. It was really about how they interacted and how they affected one another. Distilling down to just these two forces allowed the work to speak to the human experience more generally, the messiness which comes with living within certain boundaries. Since we all went into shelter in place, it does seem to lend a relevance to the concept of restrictions on a person.
Does being an artist and the methods and thought processes you use to make art translate to other parts of your life?
I am definitely allowing that line to blur a lot more than I previously have. I am bringing more things from my personal life into my process. The practice is always there in the back of your mind, waiting to see a connection with an object or an idea to spur on the next project. I definitely see my role in the studio as the alchemist, combining unlikely materials to
create something new. I am allowing myself the space to do this in life as well, I feel like we all have to be creative and thoughtful to adapt to life during a global pandemic. Thinking creatively in every aspect seems the best option to navigate all the changes whether that be finding ways to connect while making sure we limit our risk and always being prepared with PPE and whatnot.
A lot of your recent work including the found object paintings and the pedestal and paper piece that will be shown at Flatline was painted to have an ideal viewing angle. Is the goal to blur the line between painting and sculpture, to give the viewer a big reveal or is it something else entirely?
I would say they are more process and materials based for me. The pieces on view at Flatline were my answer to continuing the conceptual work of the In Situ series in the studio. I knew that continuing that series at the pace I was wouldn’t be sustainable, but the concepts were so arresting that I needed to bridge the gap. It couldn’t really just be about making a finished painting anymore. I wanted to consider the life the materials had before I painted them, and the life they would have after that. The ephemerality of paper and cardboard made sense to me, and adding objects to mirror the dimensionality of the street art pieces felt like a fun opportunity to explore that under the protection of the studio. I enjoy setting up these problems for myself. They do have somewhat of an ideal viewing angle, but I like that it can be a bit of an exploration and surprise. I call it the Snapshot Series since they capture my movements in the studio.
Do you have a specific audience in mind when you are making these pieces?
Not necessarily, but I love the idea of interjecting work into spaces that are unexpected. I have really enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with people on the street about the work. I love the idea that you could just be walking down an alley and encounter this clearly altered thing, or pile of things. I wonder if it would feel the same as encountering another person in a place you weren't expecting them to be. I think they have a strange kind of physical presence.
I like to think that art is for everyone, not just for those in the know. I think the materiality of the work can be fun regardless.
If time, money and expertise were not factors what piece of art would you make?
Ha. I am not sure I can stretch my brain quite that far. But I can say that I would definitely love to up my scale. Go real big. Like public art big. Fill up an empty warehouse big. Kara Walker’s The Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby big. It would be fun.
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