Evoking Suburbia: Corey Dunlap

by Paul Weiner

Corey Dunlap is an artist working in mediums of installation and sculpture. He received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through Tufts University in 2013 and attended the New York Arts Practicum in 2013. Many of his recent works involve the arranging of objects from suburban settings. Many of Dunlap’s recent works are also made in collaboration with his partner, Bradley Tsalyuk. Additional images of his artwork may be found on his website.

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The Hot Stones Are Never Rough; massage table, silicon rubber, plastic, hot stones, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk.


Paul Weiner:
What are some of the most common themes in your recent work and how do you evoke them?

Corey Dunlap:
My primary focus is the mutability of the body, and I often employ a variety of techniques in order to facilitate that investigation. My research is intuitively structured, and it combines a collage of subjects including self-help culture, domestic identity, Flow Theory, virtual object hood, and multi-stable awareness. Currently, my work engages with corporeal objects which diversely confront both an optimistic and deprecating sense of self. These suburban objects derive from a culture whose desire is to better the self through the body, fluctuating on a scale between exertion and relaxation. I am interested in presenting these objects within a virtual-like setting. In this way, the viewer is allowed to engage with the physical structure of the object through a projected avatar body. I find the absent body to be a poetically rich subject.

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Cognitive Decline; commercial chaise lounge, play sand, casters, wood, 2013

Paul Weiner:
Many of your recent works are in collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. How does working with a partner impact your work?

Corey Dunlap:
Bradley and I have been partners for three years and have worked collaboratively for about a year. Our collaboration developed organically by finding overlaps in interests and expanding those interests through dialogue. We have worked in close proximity to one another for so long, and, therefore, it is often difficult to determine where an idea or technique originated. Because we also have a personal relationship, we are able to more easily challenge and push each other in an honest and direct way. Working collaboratively allows for multiple perspectives, and I feel that our independent work has strengthened through this intimate exchange.

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The Hot Stones Are Never Rough; massage table, silicon rubber, plastic, hot stones, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk.

Paul Weiner:
Tell us a little about your process for creating The Hot Stones Are Never Rough. Why did you choose to use the materials you used?

Corey Dunlap:
The Hot Stones Are Never Rough started while we were working with a flesh-like silicon rubber called Dragon Skin. It is a fantastic material. We had been playing with it independently and testing what forms could be created. Bradley had wanted to make a work that drew from spa culture, specifically hot stone massages. We were both attracted the sculptural gesture of this activity, which allows the body to be layered between the table and the stones by way of gravity. We were interested in taking the humor of this arrangement and skewing it into a surrealist replication, which ultimately produces a type of horror. We wanted the body to be represented through an economy of forms in order to highlight what we found to be so interesting and absurd about the activity.

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Weslo Pursuit E 25; custom printed banner, elliptical bike, electric motor, Corian tile samples, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. An electric motor is attached to a Weslo Pursuit E 25 eliptical bike allowing it to continuously run.

Paul Weiner:
You mentioned your use of suburban objects. Suburban life certainly seems like a major motif in contemporary life. What do you think makes an object suburban?

Corey Dunlap:
I think most people are drawn to the idea of suburban life. It’s romantic and utopian. Most first world countries have some type of suburban area, but none to the extent of America. Like many people, I grew up in this type of community. I have always been attracted to the inherent messiness that underpins this otherwise pleasant environment. For a long time, my practice has abstractly employed a method in which the ideal or innocent is somehow contaminated through various means. Often, the objects I employ come from suburban spaces and are then acted upon to produce this type of multi-stable meaning.

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Weslo Pursuit E 25; custom printed banner, elliptical bike, electric motor, Corian tile samples, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. An electric motor is attached to a Weslo Pursuit E 25 eliptical bike allowing it to continuously run.

Paul Weiner:
As a young artist, do you feel that there is much energy in the art scene today?

Corey Dunlap:
The internet has provided an unending stream of artists accessible through one’s fingertips. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much work, good and bad, is being produced. These days, it is expected that an artist has a website with documentation of their work, statement, resume, etc. The accessibility of it all provides an enormous amount of energy. In addition, I think a lot of people are grappling with technology and the internet as sources of content, and they are producing very intriguing works. There seems to be a lot of energy in this community, though I have my own apprehensions about it being used simply as a novel medium.

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Vision Board; metal, leather, polymer clay, magnets, printed image, 2013.

Paul Weiner:
What are you working on right now?

Corey Dunlap:
Right now, Bradley and I are working on a collaborative sculpture and photographic series. We have constructed a large half circle arch made of plastic tubing that is covered in sheer orange fabric. It closely resembles a sunset or sunrise. We plan to take this form to various outdoor locations and construct a simple illusion in which the sculpture sits directly on the horizon line. Lately, I have been thinking about minimalist sculptors like John McCracken and Craig Kauffman and their ability to transcend the body’s physical form. Independently, I am working on some flat, wall-mounted sculptures which are constructed from cotton padding and fauve leather. These forms draw from soft-play designs and gymnastic equipment and will be used to construct a space in which other objects exist.

Paul Weiner:
With taking your collaborative sculpture outdoors, you’re bringing art outside of the gallery setting. Do you ever find the dominance of white gallery walls to limit your artistic experience?

Corey Dunlap:
For us, taking these sculptures outdoors is dictated by both the limitations of the space available to us and what we deem appropriate for the project. The typical white wall gallery space often serves as a blank, non-specific space where artwork can exist independent of any specific context. In this way, the gallery setting can enhance the work. I think about it as a type of virtual space where anything can be called into existence. It is likely these outdoor sculptures will be photographed and subsequently exhibited in a gallery. Though these sculptures will exist in a natural setting during their making, this is just another element which informs the overall work.

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Fuck Me, Silly. fluorescent light, stuffed toy rabbit, wood, marble contact paper, 2012.

Paul Weiner:
Do you usually use found objects in your work or are these objects created or bought specifically for your sculpture?

Corey Dunlap:
All of the above. My process doesn’t necessarily start with an idea and then move into the physical. Sense can come after. The main elements of the works are usually created or bought specifically for an idea in mind, but sometimes I will find something that strikes a chord with my intuition and build out from there. I find it helps to collect an object first and live with it for a while before I dissect it. It’s like a puzzle in that way.


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