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Check out Bryan Northup’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bryan Northup.

Bryan, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am a California native, living and working in Oak Park, Illinois since 2008. I graduated from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California with a BFA in Fine Art Photography in 1998. Since then have worked primarily with glass, creating panels, 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 I am compelled to bring attention to the tenuous balance between the natural world and ever-increasing human consumption and destruction of those resources humans depend on. Since 2015, I have turned my attention to the problem of single-use plastics. By creating work with these plastics, I hope to bring awareness to the environmental issues caused by this material.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I was awakened to the serious problem of single-use plastics in 2015. I like to think that a dead tree changed the trajectory of my art practice. I was fortunate to be selected to treat a public art sculpture through the Chicago Tree Project that utilized a dead tree (one of many in the city’s parks) as a framework for sculpture. I chose to shift my material from glass bottles to plastic beverage bottles for many logistical reasons but through the process of creating the sculpture entitled “Message in A Bottle” I discovered the invisible scourge of single use plastic and ties to the bottled water industry. Shifting my thinking, message and medium to create with everyday found materials that no one was thinking about seemed the most important outcome of the project. Before this experience I had no idea that plastic lasts forever, never decomposing. Or the amounts of plastic produced, used and thrown away on a daily basis, all designed to be disposed of. As I researched more, these facts changed my awareness and the focus of my artwork. Now I make art out of trash that appears to be edible.

My sculpture and assemblage work are 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. All are eye-catching and colorful – but made of plastic trash that will last forever. My intent is to stage an intervention about the enormous problem of single-use plastics by forcing encounters with this toxic material in the context of art. By presenting an appetizing yet inedible banquet that may trigger our actual appetite, my work examines modern society’s craving for convenience and dependence on this toxic material.

After tempting you to seriously consider eating plastic, the realization is that “You have a choice, but other beings on the planet unfortunately do not due to human dependence on plastics.” With this work I hope to call into question our comfortable habits when choosing and using this material and put you off your next portion of plastic.

Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?

There are so many daily bombardments of bad news (real and fake) that have reshaped our surroundings just with in the last two years. On every level, I think people are feeling threatened, unsafe and exploited. There are emotions, feelings, ideas, languages, realities and truths that have yet to be named or even discovered. The role of artists is to reflect aspects of the world and make manifest their experiences and explorations with works of art. So with a vast array of physical media and unique insight, artists have the ability to reflect and shape, calm or invigorate, and change society.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The best way to see my work is on my website, www.bryannorthup.com. I keep my site updated with recent works which are available for sale. I do have work in several exhibits – Through July 27 I have work included in the 61st Annual Beloit & Vicinity Exhibition, Wright Art Museum, Beloit, WI. I will have a food themed work included in an exhibit FOOD CHAIN at Gallery MC, New York, NY. I will also be part of the Traveling Classroom sculpture exhibit, August 15 from 7-9 pm at 2616 N Cicero Ave. Chicago Finally I will have work in the Evanston & Vicinity Biennial 2018 in and a large installation in an exhibition ‘Out of the Box’ at the Oak Park Art League for the month of September.

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Image Credit:
Bryan Northup

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