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 exhibits his current body of work across the US in galleries including Main Street Arts, South Bend Museum of Art, Chelsea’s Gallery 524, Bortolami, Gallery MC, ArtPrize, St. Louis Artist's Guild, Beloit College’s Wright Museum of Art, Zhou B Art Center, Bridgeport Art Center, Evanston Art Center, Highland Park Art Center and the Oak Park Art League's Carriage House Gallery. Upcoming Exhibitions
I continue to create a massive feast unfit to be eaten. I am attempting to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, anatomical dissection and waste - exploring layers of meaning in an age where plastics have saturated our environment and penetrated human-kind both biologically and culturally, to the cellular level. The organic forms and textures I create suggest perishable matter, “flesh”, "tissue" likely to spoil and decay quickly, but because these objects are created with plastic, they will never naturally decompose. Explorations of “the inner” through cutaways and cross-sections force an interaction with the ubiquitous plastics of modern life, suggesting surgical practice and precision, while simultaneously manipulating the viewer’s appetites for a delicious meal. My sculpture and assemblage work is multi-faceted, some works directly reference and mimic food, appearing to be edible, while others suggest a microscopic viewpoint, the effects of plastic at the cellular level. I work with plastic as a fiber, a fabric, in some ways as a cooking ingredient, a food. I incorporate common tools such as chef knife to cut the rolls and an iron to laminate sheets of films together. Creating each roll, "sushi- style" is 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. My intent is to stage an intervention about modern society's craving for convenience and dependence on this toxic material. After plating these exotic delicacies and tempting you to seriously consider eating plastic, I hope to call into question our comfortable habits when choosing and using this material in our daily lives.
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