East Gallery

Containment Strategies

Sarah Kusa

September 10–October 23, 2022
Opening Reception: September 10, 5–7pm

Sarah Kusa presents an immersive installation that considers ideas of anxiety, control, and experiences of personal and collective vulnerability.


ARTIST BIO
Sarah Kusa is a Minnesota-based visual artist who creates mixed-media sculpture and installations dealing with themes of human vulnerability and interconnection, with forms ranging from abstract bodies to three-dimensional drawings in space. Materials and gestures are central to her work. Kusa has exhibited her art throughout the United States and is the recipient of a 2021 McKnight Fellowship in Fiber Arts, a 2017/2018 Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Early Career Artists, a 2015 Jerome Foundation Project Grant, and a 2012 McKnight Next Step Fund. She has participated in residencies at MASS MoCA, Ragdale, and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota. She lives and works in St. Paul.


ARTIST STATEMENT
A vein of vulnerability runs through all of my sculptures and installations, reflecting my questions about being in the world as a creature with human limitations. I am curious about the precariousness of vulnerability and power — how the two closely coexist, even when one might seem to eclipse the other. Using abstraction and a spare material language, my work investigates how we embody these traits through what we attempt to hold in, what we aim to keep out, and what ties we keep.

With a wide visual range, my art revolves around the body as a symbol for the human experience. I create abstract bodies that stand in for our own, thread drawings about interconnection, and three-dimensional constructions that suggest spaces where our bodies may or may not belong. Across this variety of forms, the body is ever present in simple repeated gestures and materials that are themselves vulnerable in some way—that can be crushed, unraveled, or torn. My most urgent ideas surround questions of human connection and disconnection, limits and barriers—both physical and psychic. The ways we seek to sort and contain each other are endless, and I attempt to imagine what it feels like to be on the other side of a divide. Increasingly, I see my art as a practice of empathy.

Over the last two years my work has coalesced around themes of anxiety, both my own and the collective worry of the pandemic era. Our shared vulnerability has heightened our instincts for safety and control, however elusive. During stretches of pandemic weeks, ideas of isolation, confinement, and containment seeped into my studio and grew into an array of physical restrictions, cage forms, and abstracted grids. Days piled up in an unrecognizable jumble of time. This installation, made of a barrier material used in building shelter, is the accumulation of those ideas. While this project took root before the pandemic, the pandemic’s influence on its final form is undeniable. With each hand-cut grid I am wondering, can we insulate ourselves from what we fear? What might we compromise in the process?

I am grateful to the McKnight Foundation and St. Catherine University for their extraordinary support of this work.


Image Gallery

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