Suzan Shutan: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

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This delicate installation reveals a generally ignored reality: one of the largest oil spills in history is right there, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. On view August 8 – 15, opening Sunday August 11, 4pm-6pm..

“Through the Looking Glass” of Soapbox’s window gallery, a meandering black growth spreads from the walls to the floor. While the title references a work of literature by Lewis Carroll, the commonality is the metaphor. Alice returns to familiar surroundings, yet is invisible to her family. She is on the wrong side of the glass. We are looking outside in, but are we not on the wrong side of the glass? It might take a few minutes to understand that what we are viewing is a map that loosely illustrates a carbon footprint and of one of the largest oil spills in the history of the world. It occurred in Greenpoint (Newtown Creek) Brooklyn.

Its been estimated that 17-30 million gallons of crude oil spilled and oozed into the soil and groundwater under Greenpoint, destroying the local aquifer, 50 acres of land making it undevelopable, and more than 100 homes on three residential blocks. The area is severely contaminated along with the Newtown Creek and aquatic life.  As recent as 2007, New York Attorney General Cuomo filed a federal lawsuit (after Riverkeeper did so in 2005) with Exxon. In October 2012, the Gowanus Canal and Rockaway Inlet suffered a spill of about 1,100 gallons of oil mixed with liquid concrete that will affect the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

This relief installation made of tar roofing paper, is in part from asphalt, which comes from the distillation process of selected cude oils. Tarpaper becomes a reference to sustainability issues surrounding our dependence upon oil. It also begs one to ask which side of the looking glass are you on?

Suzan Shutan

“My work straddles the worlds of two and three dimensions. Driven by materials that are manufactured and handmade, I repurpose and transform them. The work is inherently imbued with meaning, as its materials become a contemporary artifact reflecting the decade and century, commenting in part upon the accumulation of cultural debris. Conceptually I am a passionate advocate of converting art into a tool of social engagement about issues of our time. Much of my work visualizes an environment and uses its surrounding architecture. Offering map-like views of “systems” found in the natural world, my work contemplates these systems as daily life that reconfigures communicative behavior into meaningful patterns and structures. My process attempts to challenge our perception of how image and meaning fuse.  Ultimately my work is about joining together a variety of elements that advocate transformation.” Suzan Shutan

Born and based in New Haven Connecticut, Suzan Shutan is an installation artist whose work combines a variety of manufactured and handmade materials in two with three dimensions. Often the work is created to interact with the architecture of a space. Her installations address issues of nature, the environment and materialism, and draws from Minimalism in its geometry of patterning and reduction of form.

A Master of Fine Arts graduate of Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, New Jersey and California Institute of the Arts in Valencia where she received a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree, Suzan is a recipient of many awards including a 2012-13 DECD/ CT Office of the Arts fellowship in Sculpture, a CEC Artslink grant, an Art Matters grant, Berkshire Taconic Foundation A.R.T grant and being a 2011 finalist for a Federal Public Art Project. She has attended artist residencies at Bemis Foundation NE, Yaddo NY and Proyecto Ace in Buenos Aires Argentina where she was awarded a mid career artist in exhibition residency.

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