Gavin Sewell


My practice comprises intricate, contemplative mixed-media collages, wall-sculptures, paintings, and works on paper. The work’s concerns evolve on several axes: My experience as a person with low and decreasing vision has heightened my sensitivity to the invisible and ambiguous, the distorted, the grey, and the blurry, as well as the paradoxes of being a visual artist with extreme low-vision. The social and economic concerns of growing up in a small factory town inform my choice of materials and palette. In a dual nod to the rust-belt and to mixed-media masters like Kurt Schwitters, Louise Bourgeois, the Kienholzes, Fred Tomaselli, and Julian Schnabel, I gravitate towards discarded objects and photographs from thrift-stores or found on the street. My practice seizes the anonymous debris of advertisements, litter, and media images and appropriates it into matrices of subjective symbolism. A lifelong interest in literature and philosophy often provides approaches and subjects. Because of my visual impairment, I have access to the Library of Congress audio collection for the blind, and the books I listen to while making art leave a powerful trace on my work. Surreal storytelling and abstract painting interplay in wall-sculptures layered with photographs and found objects. From patterns discovered in a few select components at the beginning of my process, I interweave layers of material like subplots of a novel, adding elements strategically or intuitively to reach a dynamic equilibrium of intellect and emotion. Sometimes my pieces are interpreted as post-modern equivalents to religious icons, memory gardens or totem poles: thought provoking objects in which a viewer’s gaze finds and explores systems of interpretation and meaning. I play in the realm between narration and hypnotic suggestion, implying half-seen stories of the absurd, the paradoxical, and the hopeful.

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