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Open Thread - Blog


May 6th, 2009
Michael McParlane

n4813632_32467187_4050I’ve known Emilia Edwards for a while now, having spent long hours in the studio alongside her during our time at Carnegie Mellon University as art students. I’ve watched her work develop exponentially over the years and I’m always excited to see what she has been up to. She will so often have something new and nasty to show, whether it be the baby octopi she is using to print with or the latest issue of a muscle magazine she’s chopping up into a collage.

In addition to being a great artist, she’s also a fan of America’s Next Top Model, which only makes her more appealing (at least to me). I asked her a few questions about her work and how Pittsburgh has been treating her.

emilia

Here’s what she had to say:

OT Blog: You came to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2004 to begin an undergraduate degree in Fine Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Since graduating in May of last year, you decided to stick around. What about the city made you want to stay? What makes is an ideal place for young artists?

Emilia Edwards: I just like it here. It’s a nice place to live. There’s always something going on, and everybody is welcome everywhere.

I moved to Pittsburgh when I was 18 from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I knew next to nothing about the city, or even the state of Pennsylvania. I hated Pittsburgh when I first moved here. I was used to sunny weather and a grid. Pittsburgh was, at first, dreary and confusing but after living here for a while I began to learn more about the city and discover its charms.

Pittsburgh is an interesting place to be a young artist because there are opportunities available to everyone here that would be hard to come by in a larger city. After living here for five years I have far more experience showing my work than I would if I lived in a place where exhibition space is more exclusive. Also, it is entirely possible to make something creative happen from scratch here.

emilia2OT: Your work often deals with the grotesque, be it depictions of rotting meat, bulging bodybuilders, ugly babies, or serpentine cryptids. Where do you think the inspiration for much of this imagery comes from?

EE: I’ve always been fascinated by twisted and shocking images. My interest in horror movies and comic books began at a young age and continues to influence my art. Sea creatures are a recurring theme in my work. I like drawing ocean life because the result is usually part dinosaur, part alien, and part monster. Many of the images in my work are sourced from the pictures in medical journals, bodybuilding magazines, food magazines, Discovery Health shows about plastic surgery, the meat section in supermarkets, aquariums, and my own photography. I collage together ideas from photos and diagrams. I’m usually striving for a kind of ugly elegance in my work.

OT: Has anything in Pittsburgh particularly piqued your interest in the putrid and gross?

EE: I actually think Pittsburgh has contributed a certain beauty to my work that I wouldn’t find elsewhere. I have used drawings of Pittsburgh and several other industrial cities (Detroit, Bilbao and Frankfurt to name a few) as backdrops for my comics. The dramatic cityscape is an ideal setting for a fantastical narrative to take place.

OT: You were recently chosen by the arts organization Creative Time for their web project Creative Time Comics, where artists are invited to create a one-page web comic meant to address the issues facing our world. How did you get involved with them and what can we expect to see?

EE: I became involved with Creative Time through a former visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon. Christopher Sperandio was asked to contribute a page to the project and thought my work would fit well with the web format and content. From there CT contacted me and asked if I would contribute a page about something relating to “here and now”.

My page goes up June 1st at http://creativetime.org/comics. I am currently drawing a segment of a narrative about a deformed frog that lives in black water. It’s about the environment but the tone is not moral-driven. It’s a story about a toxic place and its inhabitants.

OT: What else can we look forward to from Emilia Edwards?

EE: I’m moving to Providence in July to start a graduate degree at Rhode Island School of Design. Until then I have a few projects lined up. I currently have a drawing on view in A Beckoning Country: Art and Objects of the Champlain Valley at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum. The piece is a preparatory drawing for Champy, a wall painting featuring Lake Champlain’s resident monster. My contribution to the Creative Time Comics project will go up in June. I am also working on some new ideas for giant wall art.  

emilia3



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