Associate Member Susan Emmerson divides her time between Boston and Chicago. Her first solo exhibition at Kingston Gallery, “Around a Thousand Tiny Corners,” just ended in May, but she’ll be show work from another series in a exhibit at Kingston in August. I recently caught up with her to talk about her work.
SDG: My mom and brother are surgeons, and so I am especially fascinated by how your experience as a surgeon inspires your work. You speak of your art as a type of translation. How does your piece Flesh and Bone translate into biological terms?
SE: I began Flesh and Bone when I noticed the strong resemblance of melted white Tyvek to the inner structure of bone, and began to try to reproduce the appearance of other body tissues.
SDG: How about all of the colors-are they direct or more metaphorical?
SE: I used organic colors found inside the living human body: subdued reds, yellows and browns. The drawings are based on various cells and parts of cells, and I included partially hidden features to give the illusion of looking inside the body.
SDG: That explains the complex textures that I find so appealing. How about this other piece that appears dramatic on Kingston’s grey walls, Visible Absence?
SE: In Visible Absence, I use forms based on the structure of the lymphatic system, with tiny vessels interconnecting seemingly random clusters of lymph nodes. I called it Visible Absence to emphasize that these structures are almost imperceptible in our own bodies and function more or less without our knowledge unless something goes wrong. The shadows that form behind the piece serve to emphasize this illusory quality.
SDG: What a gorgeous way to bring to light information that we typically can’t even sense, let alone see. Would you say your art is a metaphor for the body at work?
SE: The abstract shapes share many qualities with live organisms: flowing, expanding, growing, repeating and proliferating.
You can learn more about Emmerson’s work at her website, susanemmerson.com, and see more of her work this August at Free Association 2015: Kingston Associates’ Annual Exhibition, from August 5 to 30, 2015.