Sean Cully’s Artist Statement 1-15-13
I strive to make art that exists somewhere in the space between painting and sculpture. By making work in that in-between space, I am attempting to understand the definition of both and blur the boundary between them. Artists whose work has inspired me into exploring the question of what makes something a sculpture versus a painting include Robert Rauschenberg, Barry McGee, and Andy Goldsworthy. Seeing Robert Rauschenberg’s painted collages of found objects when I was 18 was the first time I started thinking about a piece as being Art, rather than as a piece of sculpture or as a painting. Barry McGee’s large installations composed of cartoonish men’s faces, helped me to appreciate my own drawings and made me want to take the work I was doing serious. Andy Goldsworthy’s transformative use of natural materials strongly influenced the way I think about materials when approaching a new piece.
I want to be as direct and economical as possible within my artistic practice. I do this by always making it as apparent as possible, what the artwork was constructed out of and how it was fabricated. There is a certain kind of honesty to making things in a transparent way, which I value. I want the viewer to be able to see both my physical and mental process, which is why I like to make each artwork as a part of a larger, evolving series. Each piece of art is then a reference back to what I’ve learned from making the last piece and is hinting at what is to come. Each piece is also a reflection and response to events in my life at the moment of its creation. Above all, my work is autobiographical; it references a time and place in my development, as a person and an artist. My art is also about the process involved in its creation, and is about satisfying all the answers to the “why do I make art” question. Answers to that question include, because I enjoy problem solving and because I find it rewarding to pursue something that I find perpetually challenging.