Art and Sustainability

"Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings." –William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist

“Re-” by Bryan Smith July 10, 2009

Come see what’s growing out of the walls at Sightline…

Cardboard sculpture by Bryan Smith

Detail of "Hoppy" by Bryan Smith

In our second show at Sightline Institute, the work of Seattle artist Bryan Smith is now on display through August 27.

Visit the office between 10am and 3pm on weekdays.

Sightline Institute
1402 Third Ave,
Fifth Floor, Suite 500
Seattle, WA
206-447-1880 ext. 100

On view is an unimaginable collection of inlaid and/or sewn cardboard works, both 2-D and 3-D. Bryan says,

I utilize the colors, texture, and text of discarded cardboard to create a body of work reflective of painterly forms. Through the co-option of printed symbols and text found on the cardboard boxes, I fabricate compositions that offer a level of cultural familiarity, while simultaneously placing the viewer in a unique and engaging landscape.

Bryan Smith is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, 2000. He has been in numerous solo and group shows both locally and nationally. His work is in the collections of Microsoft Toronto, Canada; King County; City of Seattle; as well as private collections. He has taught assemblage at Pratt Fine Arts Center and enjoys experimenting with different art forms, including making frame drums and stop motion films. Currently, Bryan lives and works in Seattle.

All works are available for purchase. Contact Bryan directly at bryansmithvis (at) msn (dot) com with sales inquiries.

What thoughts about sustainability are inspired by Bryan’s art (and by art in general)? Share yours in a comment.


8 Responses to ““Re-” by Bryan Smith”

  1. Becky Says:

    Written by Julia Hensley on her blog ( ):

    “I went to pick up my work from Sightline Institute recently where it had hung during June as the inaugural show in Becky Brooks’s series of curated exhibits, and from down the hall, before I even entered the glass doors, a blaze of red caught my eye and wouldn’t let go.

    “Up close, Bryan Smith’s cardboard constructions are meticulously crafted, bold and intricate at the same time. Abstract compositions reward closer viewing with the complex details of cut shapes, interrupted text, and images printed on what were once ordinary boxes.

    “On my way out the door I glanced up. Several large, bulbous sculptures of sewn cardboard perching on a dividing shelf almost reached over and tapped me on the head. A simple blanket stitch connects petals of packaging into bulging, organic forms that look as if they are not done morphing yet. As if one might come in one morning to find the room filled with pink, white and green cardboard organisms, still growing…”

  2. I love these pieces. Fortunate enough to spend every day with them, I’ve had too many thoughts about them to remember my initial reaction, but I know it was strong! Bryan Smith’s work energizes everyone who comes into the office. Uniquely urban, i concoct all kinds of stories about them- where did all that cardboard come from? Who interacted with it- and how profoundly that interaction changes once the same material is reformed. This is the alchemy of the artist, and I am happy to spend so much time with Bryan’s work. It is mixed up, edgy, light hearted, painterly, alive, and serious. I’ll be sad when it’s gone.

  3. Ketty Says:

    I first caught sight of these pieces while walking down the hall towards the Sightline office. China-red art forms sprung out at me, and from afar I thought I must be looking at a copy of Matisse’s Harmony in Red. Upon closer inspection, though, these are not one-dimensional paintings– they are complex compositions of layered, brightly colored cardboard whose sometimes smooth surface opens up to reveal under layers of textured colored form.
    The green-ish, three dimensional patch-work piece above our doorway is my favorite– reminds me simultaneously of a green dragon, the undulating mass of Seattle’s Experience Music Project building, and a large, multicolored pulsating heart like the one I used to play in in Portland’s OMSI exhibit.

    I love how this exhibit uses recycled materials, breathing new life into them.

  4. I love Julia’s description of Bryan Smith’s work, “…organic forms that look as if they are not done morphing yet.” Even the 2D pieces have a movement to them. I have expect to turn around and see the patterns and shapes shifted and transformed. In fact each inspection calls forth new details, colors and depth. Bits are familiar and some mysterious, but it’s certain each piece of cardboard has a story and each piece has it’s place. A wonderful way to view the world around us, I think. I’ve really enjoyed being surrounded by the work. It has added a definite energy to the space.

  5. This exhibit fascinates me — I find myself staring at it, and thinking about the meaning of trash and the value (and occasionally the beauty) of what we choose to throw away.

  6. Alan Durning Says:

    Bryan’s work is arresting. It is bold and declarative, but also surprisingly intimate. I think what I like best is the way he has converted transient waste products (cardboard boxes) into objects of the highest value (art). Wow!

  7. Migee Says:

    Bryan’s work speaks to me deeply. It’s about sustainability, is sustainable, colorful, and compelling. I particularly love the red duo–recycled/found materials with such texture. Lovely to have!

  8. Anna Says:

    Very cool stuff. My favorite stuff combined into beautiful objects: recycling junk into art, clever collage, tricks with words, large format, no fear of color, a tightrope walk between 2-D and sculptural, sewing and craft taken to a higher level… So many things to like about these. Thanks for sharing them.

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