Bon bons, meaning “bon, or good,” typically refers to small confectionary treats. The exhibit at Grubbs Gallery from March 2 to April 20, while not of confection, serves up a small sampling of how different manufactured materials can be repurposed and made into art.
Suzan Shutan’s work straddles the worlds of two and three dimensions. Her art is driven by its materials, most of which come from manufactured products such as roofing paper, yarn, straws and beer can holders that have been manipulated to comment in part upon the accumulation of cultural debris.
What is unique about Ms. Shutan’s process is that much of her work is made on site for the space. She will spend three days in the gallery building work for the exhibit. Her work always considers and integrates itself with the architecture of a space. The public can expect to see visual effects that distort dimension, alter optics and challenges our perception of how image and meaning fuse.
Much of her work demonstrates transformative life processes such as pollination and migration or cycles such as pollution, systems found in the natural world. Ms. Shutan states, “these systems contemplate daily life as a mounting collection and collapse of observed objects and data that reconfigure communicative behavior into meaningful patterns and structures that are both fictitious and natural.”
Ms. Shutan often starts her work by using algorithms gleaned from the web. Her Tar Cluster II, a wall relief in Grubbs Gallery, constructed from hundreds of pieces of tar roofing paper looped together into chain links that get woven into huge sweeping forms, uses algorithms taken from measurements documenting the flow of two of our biggest global oil spills to date (the Gulf Coast and Alaska.) She takes artistic license to morph them into one algorithm that represents the phenomena of clustering via chaining. Both clustering and chaining occur as one section of a spill meets another section of a spill causing a joining of forces that grow in magnitude and in consumption of what lies in its traveling path.
Tar is made in part from asphalt, which comes from the distillation process of selected crude oils. Tarpaper becomes a reference to sustainability issues surrounding our dependence upon oil. The chain link pattern draws from an ancient form of surveying and measuring land. Ms. Shutan uses the repetition of the chain link to grow it into a massive form that is a section of the measurement of the invasive flow and spread of the two oil spills. By combining the tar paper with Japanese paper, she furthers the content by referencing the 2011 nuclear reactor meltdown in which deadly waste poured into the sea.
Internationally exhibited artist Suzan Shutan is based in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, New Jersey where she received a Master in Fine Arts, and from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where she received a Bachelor in Fine Arts.
She has been an invited guest artist, professor and lecturer at numerous institutions world wide including the Austrian Embassy (2012), Cheshire Academy, CT (2011), Rhode Island College, RI (2010, 07), The Garbage Museum, CT (2009), Proyecto Ace, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2008), University of Hartford, CT (2007), COEEA Conference –CT Outdoor & Environmental Education Association (2006), Mount Wachusett Community College, MA (2005), Florida Atlantic University (2004), ArtAnimacie Cultural Center, Warsaw, Poland (2003), International Festival of Art & Ideas, CT (2002) and the University of Victoria, Canada.
Ms. Shutan has been a finalist for federal public art projects, awarded grants from CEC Artslink, New York, Art Matters, New York, Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Massachusetts, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, and has attended artist residencies at the Bemis Foundation and Yaddo, New York among others.
Ms. Shutan’s work has been shown extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Currently a twenty-foot relief sculpture made of tar roofing paper is on exhibit at the Bank of America Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina through December 2012. Nationally her work has traveled from The Laguna Art Museum in California and The Contemporary Art Center in Las Vegas, Nevada to The Aldrich Museum in Connecticut and The Alternative Museum in New York. Exhibitions abroad have included Antayla Museum in Turkey (2011), Golden Parachutes, Berlin, Germany (2011), Poliglota Gallery, Argentina (2008), The Palace Ujazdowski Contemporary Art Center, Poland (2003).
Her work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Art in New England Magazine, and High Performance Magazine. She is listed in 2010 Art in America as represented by the Islip Art Museum in New York. Her work can be found in private and public collections such as the Villa Taverna Foundation and the Swedish Archives in Bjaard.