Bryan Northup is a California native, living and working in Oak Park, Illinois since 2008. Bryan graduated from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California with a BFA in Fine Art Photography in 1998 but works in several media including cold and warm glass, painting, mixed media sculpture and photography. Until recently, Bryan has focused on working with glass, from traditional stained glass and mosaics to experiments with recycled bottles, creating kiln-formed, functional tableware, lighting and sculptural works including a line of bowls made from the hail damaged glass of the Garfield Park Conservatory. As an environmental artist Bryan has turned his attention to the problem of single-use plastics. Since 2015, Bryan has used these plastics and foam that litter our daily lives to create wall relief and sculpture works that mimic and abstract food. His current work forces an interaction with the ubiquitous plastics of modern life, manipulating the viewer’s appetites while recording a material fingerprint that alludes to contemporary social values.
Bryan's work has been exhibited both nationally and abroad in galleries including Chelsea’s Gallery 524, Bortolami, CICA, South Korea, Gallery MC, St. Louis Artists Guild, Beloit College Wright Museum of Art, South Bend Museum of Art, Zhou B Art Center, International Museum of Surgical Science, Bridgeport Art Center, Evanston Art Center and Highland Park Art Center. Upcoming Exhibitions
My work responds to human dependence on a uniquely modern material: plastic. I continue to create a massive feast unfit to be eaten, an inedible abundance made from our plastic disposables. With my work I am attempting to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, cellular structures and what we throw away - exploring layers of meaning in an age where plastics have penetrated our species—both biologically and culturally—to the cellular level. The work is part mosaic, part painting, part sculpture, all made from discarded single-use plastics. The organic forms and textures I create suggest perishable matter, flesh, food likely to decay quickly, but because these objects are created with the permanent materials of plastic, they will never decompose. I probe the occluded, the subcutaneous through cutaways and cross-sections, attempting to find how far plastic has infiltrated the “sea” inside each of us. Transverse sections force an interaction with ubiquitous plastics of modern life, perhaps suggesting surgical practice and precision while simultaneously manipulating our appetites for a delicious, if fanciful meal. The compositions are constructed with techniques mimicking a sushi chef’s: rolling and slicing. I work with plastic as a fiber, a fabric, in some ways as a cooking ingredient, a food. I incorporate common tools from my other domestic duties as cook and such as chef knife to cut the rolls and an iron to laminate sheets of films together. Creating each roll, "sushi- style"becomes a meditation, while adding unlikely and inedible ingredients like foam, bubble wrap, plastic bags I reflect on how this ritual is so closely related to making something nourishing, something we crave and can really eat, dinner for my family. Using the dimensional slices, or sections of rolled single-use plastics as mark making devices, abstract wall reliefs and sculptural works are created in an attempt to imagine how these very plastics are interacting with living systems at the deepest level. With this body of work, I hope to record a material fingerprint, a time capsule, that implicates contemporary social values and attitudes surrounding environmental conservation, consumption, waste and how these affect our own bodies.