In the realm of creative ideas, playful art, and serious talent (AKA Sarah Lawrence’s visual arts thirds) there’s an artist whose exploration into materiality sets foot onto her own two feet. Parisian plaster now covers her black boots that is, as she becomes one with her art. Beyond the simple evidence of her shoes, however, are her hardy pieces of sculpture that will forever be in the acme of their magnificence.
Artist maverick Emily Loughlin (’15) works with a variety of mediums: porcelain, marble, digital imaging, foam, plaster, carving wood. Her aesthetic forms are quirky and classical, a contemporary take on traditional mediums and material objects from everyday life. In terms of her process and projects to come, she says, “I’m just letting the materials guide me, I never really know what’s going to happen next – I may make some plans but they almost never turn out how I’d expect…Through working, I’m able to develop ideas about what I’m making.”
From the time she wakes up to well into the night, she can be found in her sculpture studio (located downstairs in Heimbold). Currently taking Rico Gatson’s Concepts in Sculpture class, she’s also doing an independent study with her don Gary Burnley (concentrating on light’s interaction with sculpture) and studying German. Her academic schedule revolves around her art making, and her continuous studio engagement allows her to muse and breathe art, even when she isn’t creating. “I want to be a professional artist,” she says, “so I look at studio time like coming into work – it’s not something I do in my ‘free time’, or when I feel like it, which I think really forces me to make a lot of sculptures, good and bad.” Her studio space is a second home of sorts, a stimulus for imagination, and also just visually in constant evolution between materiality, color and concepts of design.
Like she says, “at the same time that the studio is this hub of people, it’s also very cloistered, in the very bottom corner of Heimbold. In this way, it very much seems like a safe space, a place to experiment and try new things – and where, once things start to work, you can move them out into the atrium and let them begin to speak for themselves.”
Heimbold Visual Arts center is not only her favorite place on campus, but also why she came to Sarah Lawrence. Known for being one of the first environmentally responsible visual arts buildings in the country (and the first LEED-certified college visual arts building), Heimbold is in-itself a site of artistry. The environment and physical space it provides for students generates a positive and lively community, poignantly encouraging visual arts practices and expression of all kinds. Emily finds the open flow of the sculpture studios a virtue:
“There’s something about the access to the outdoors that makes our studios a kind of thoroughfare for lots of different types of people. I see it as a kind of necessary distraction – it keeps me thinking about how others will view my work, and it makes me aware of the studio/communal space as medium. I think that this has really led to an interest in site-specific installations for me; both this year and last I’ve been making lots of pieces that interact with the shape of the studio, and (hopefully) invite people to enter it.”
And her work sincerely does interact with both the space and other people. You may have seen her sculptures around Heimbold or the A*Space, such as her “Space” mobiles hanging underneath the staircase in the atrium, her “Fruit Tree” mobile in the first C.A.T.S. show, or her “Marshmallow” archway in the atrium (also part of the second C.A.T.S. show).
The “Space” installation is part of her collection of floating sculptures. Made out of found objects from the vicinity of the studio, Heimbold and outside, one can find objects like scrap metal, bits of plastic, and natural materials like branches and seed pods. Inspired from her childhood and growing up in her grandfather’s studio (he was a painter), where he used to decorate his own studio with hand-painted mobiles, she always wanted to make her own. “He left me with a really intense desire to be an artist,” she says, “as well as all of his supplies, which are more than I could ever need…”
“The Fruit Tree”, made from violet colored foam, is Alexander Calder-esque at a glance, but truly Loughlin in aesthetic. Lately, she’s been experimenting a lot with foam, (“building, shaping, carving” with it) since it was lying around the studio.
The plaster-covered foam “Marshmallow Arch” is part of her “Bad Sculpture” series. As she explains, “Bad Sculpture is a series of formal experiments aimed at creating riffs on traditional sculptural images, that are both whimsical and materially-driven. Using foam, clay, cardboard and fabric, I seek to let materials speak for themselves, and to emphasize their pliability.”
Currently hanging in the downstairs hallway is her celestial installation, “The Stars”. Also made from foam, Loughlin carved and painted the pieces ethereal deep dark blue, white and shimmery glittery gold. Her experimentation on suspension, as with her work in general, is thus masterfully captivating on a range of levels: atmospherically, elevation-wise, and sentimentally.
Make sure to view Emily Loughlin’s work in Heimbold, and check out the group show the Concepts in Sculpture class is holding on November 11th.
Mood music: “Classical or NPR”
Favorite word in German and why: “Neugier (curiosity) pronounced nOOYgear. I think it’s a beautiful word, as is its adjectival form (neugierig), and it’s something I’m constantly propelled by in my artwork.”
Favorite City: “Berlin. There’s a really beautiful, sleek aesthetic in Berlin that counteracts the grunginess of the city really beautifully. It’s somewhere I’d definitely like to return to as an artist.”
Artists of Interest: “James Turrell, Alexander Calder, Sarah Sze, Constantin Brancusi, Eva Hesse, Alicja Kwade, Tom Sachs, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin. I like artists that lend their own voices to materials, without trying to overpower them. Materials should be helped, encouraged, to speak for themselves.”
One thing you’re excited about this year at SLC: “I’m excited about being more involved in CATS and in some of the arts publications, I haven’t really been very involved in the artistic community here in the past, but I think it could really be an asset.”
Pastimes and other interests: I like to embroider on the subway! And cook…I’m a very good organizer!
Favorite medium? I’m trying to figure that out this year! Ask me again in June : )