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Sue Burickson
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Gowanus

ARTIST STATEMENT: I make sculptures with videos embedded in them. It all began while I was working as a portrait painter of Civil War Reenactors. Participation in reenactments is expensive, time consuming and physically demanding, yet reenactors traveled many miles across the country with horses, canons, expensive uniforms and guns and nobody was paying them. Why did they do it? I was fascinated by what they had to say about their inner life while they were participating in reenactions. Many of them said that they actually felt that they were General Grant, General Lee, a confederate soldier, a union scout. Some of them went so far as to say that they believed that they were these people in a former life. Clearly what was happening in them was more than just pretending or playing a role. My paintings did not capture any of this. So I was left with the question of what was really going on and how to represent it in my work? Often, in painting portraits, I see something in someone else and begin to see it in myself as well. At breakfast with friends one Sunday morning following a long night of painting, I began to notice that I was telling myself a story, talking to myself about myself. It was like hearing jazz over the telephone. I was caught up in my head. I wasn’t able to be in the room with the other people. I experienced myself living in a state of isolated separation. I began to notice this often. Speaking with my friends about this situation, many admitted that they had similar experiences. The details of this separation and its effects demanded to be explored in my artwork. But how? I began experimenting with sculpture. Over the next three years, I came to the conclusion that sculpture and 2D painting alone are not enough. The availability of new technology in the form of portable videos opened up a promising new dimension. Because the inner life is in movement, I could use video to talk about it. I began to put videos inside the sculpture. The result of this effort is my new work of Transmedia Portraits. The Inner Life of Centaurs, which is part of Transmedia Portraits , explores the relationship between the head and the heart in man. The Centaur is an ancient symbol of our dual nature. My Centaur sculpture is life size. It is made of plaster, clay, wood, plastic and metal supports with cellphones and tablets embedded in the head and the chest. The outer body of the Centaur is covered with seashells. They are painted gold. These shells were collected over two summers at Fire Island after Hurricane Sandy. The shells tarnish over time, reflecting the transient and artificial nature of the outer personality. Because the Centaur is large, the physical impact on the viewer is potent. There are narrative projections behind the Centaur sculpture. One of these “You Need To Get A Life” explores the obstacles to contact between the head and the heart from obsessive thoughts in the mind creating tensions which prevent the connection being made.

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