Sullivan thrives with art pieces

Nicole Aikens

The School of Art’s Downtown Gallery was home to one graduate student’s Master of Fine Arts thesis gallery exhibition.

Emily Sullivan held her show, entitled “Dystopia,” April 7-17.

Sullivan did not just display her printmaking, but she did so in a “pretty ambitious” way, associate professor Michael Loderstedt said. Loderstedt is Sullivan’s advisor for her thesis project.

“Rarely do people take the work to that unconventional presentation,” Loderstedt said.

The unconventional presentation is that Sullivan did not just show her prints; she made the prints, cut the prints and made them into different forms by hand. Sullivan took printmaking, which is usually two-dimensional, and she turned it into something else entirely, Loderstedt said.

That manipulation was Sullivan’s idea all along.

“The work basically looks at the way people tend to customize and personalize everything around them,” Sullivan said.

Once she edited her pieces, Sullivan’s decided to show one large window piece, eight photographs of her three-dimensional forms and five small-scale installations that people looked at through pinhole viewfinders.

“It’s important that the viewer didn’t have an idea of scale,” Sullivan said about the pinhole viewfinder installations. “By looking though the viewfinder, it is a private experience, and it happens in their own imagination.”

These installations are essentially small-scale environments placed inside a box for people to view.

The printmaking portion of Sullivan’s work was done through a process called serigraphy, or screen-printing.

First, polyester or silk fiber is stretched around a wooden frame. Then a stencil is made to block off a certain pattern on the screen, and ink is then pushed through the open parts of the stencil onto the paper.

All of Sullivan’s pieces were made specifically for her gallery show. She started working on the pieces in December and finished on Tuesday, April 6, just one day before the show. The window piece took her right down to the wire, she said.

Sullivan worked in the gallery the past two summers, so she had experience building shows.

“It’s just a matter of planning the work and envisioning it in the space,” Sullivan said.

In Loderstedt’s opinion, she planned and envisioned well. He called her work thorough, smart and beautiful.

Sullivan started research for her thesis project in August, and she said her topic is fairly conceptually based. She was drawn to the idea of her topic of customization and personalization during a few of her art history courses.

During her gallery show, Sullivan said she wanted to engage viewers in a similar way to marketing. She wanted to make it a private experience of taking or feeling ownership.

In addition to the gallery show, Sullivan also had to write a paper for her master’s thesis project.

With the gallery exhibition and thesis paper under her belt, Sullivan plans to graduate in May with a Master of Fine Arts degree. Sullivan was just recently awarded the Thomas D. Little Prize for Excellence in Printmaking, which is awarded every year to one undergraduate student and one graduate student.