A ceramic eagle flies over a bed of puppies, a floral vase and a miniature watering can. On the next wall, a finely sculpted cupid-like figure in a basket slides off a mountain of ceramic slime. Across the gallery, an enormous, towering wave composed of paintings envelops the room. Amidst these pieces, visitors are completely transported into the imagination of local artist Emily Sudd.
Sudd’s exhibit in Weingart Gallery, “Decorative Objects,” forces viewers to do a double-take and reconsider what they think to be normal or conventional about the world around them. Although she is recognized for her ceramic work, Sudd has gained attention for the unique way she incorporates found objects into her pieces.
“It was fun to see the different mediums that the artist used,” Marlaina Bemis (first-year) said. “I have no idea where or how she found all these random objects and attached them to one another.”
According to Sudd, the title of the exhibit refers to her goal to blur the distinction between the decorative and artistic categories. To do this, she scoured thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and UCLA dumpsters for items to incorporate into her pieces.
“I’m more interested in creating things that promote slippage between definitions,” Sudd said. “I would rather not say that there’s anything about my pieces that makes them artistic or not artistic and I want you to grapple with that yourself.”
Director of Oxy Arts Aandrea Stang has been following Sudd’s work for almost 10 years. She included this exhibit to diversify the kinds of media displayed in Weingart Gallery. The gallery has featured printmaking, video and photography, but never ceramics.
“I’ve also been really thinking about what is taught here and how to … support what’s taught, but also fill in the gaps of what’s not taught,” Stang said. “There isn’t a lot of exposure to ceramics in the sculpture classes.”
Sudd recently earned her Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from UCLA and, according to Stang, Sudd’s work has gone through various phases since she was a student. When she began, she created more traditional ceramic pieces. Now, Sudd has developed her own style, which consists of bringing in outside artwork and objects and using them to fashion her own pieces. Some retain ceramic elements, while others are composed entirely of various found objects.
Artist and friend Simone Montemurno also finds this style, and exhibition specifically, to be a departure from Sudd’s traditional beginnings. Sudd, on the other hand, views it as the continuation of an existing line of thinking in which she thinks of pieces as collaborative. The wave-shaped sculpture composed of canvas paintings, for example, features the work of other artists morphed into something new.
“Somebody else made [the incorporated objects/paintings] and there’s an element of mystery in that,” Sudd said, “I allow these things to work together and become something.”
Sudd’s work will be on display in Weingart until April 11.