Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Manic Growth @ SPACES: Elizabeth Dunfee explores how we're harming ourselves & everything else

Currently a painting and drawing student at the University of Akron, artist Elizabeth Dunfee makes her exhibit debut outside of the Rubber City with "Manic Growth," appearing Fri 2/11 through Fri 4/1 at SPACES in Cleveland. In recent years the Newark, Ohio native has been exploring the manipulation of natural elements and its effects on our bodies. CoolCleveland talked to Dunfee about her artistic vision, the components of the multimedia "Manic Growth" and her heavy-handed message.

CoolCleveland: Take us through your vision for "Manic Growth."

Elizabeth Dunfee: I'll be talking about how we are essentially destroying ourselves. There are a couple of elements going on that have a specific meaning. There's video and audio, and there's going to be an installation wall mural you'll see when you walk in. You'll see the space is physically cut off from the rest of the gallery so when you walk up to it you're kind of discovering a space, discovering this world that I created. You'll see an installation made up of wood and yarn and plaster sculptures. There will be two videos involved, one will be projected onto the installation and the other will be projected onto the floor. That brings the viewer's attention into that environment and that space.

Sounds very interesting and slightly abstract. What exactly is the message behind "Manic Growth?"

What you will be seeing is a representation of how I view things. For example, how I view pesticides altering our foods and what that is doing to our bodies. Essentially it's causing sickness and disease and this installation is talking about those types of alterations to our environment that we create. So it's an environment that I'm creating that is going to bring the viewer into perspective of what is going on within their own bodies and what's happening within them.

What events in your life led up to you conceiving "Manic Growth?"

It goes back to a year and half ago when I became a vegetarian and started doing a lot of research in the treatment of animals and how our food industry is run; all of that behind-the-scenes kind of thing that people seem to be na´ve about. Talking to my friends about it, they would say they understand that all of this horrible stuff is going on with these animals and the pesticides in our food, but they just didn't really care about how that's really harming your body. So it was kind of like a motivation to make a very serious statement about something very serious that's going on right now.

It appears by design the message of "Manic Growth" is very heavy-handed. Is this the case with all of your work?

Normally, no. So this is a complete shift in a way I do my process of my work. I wanted to do something completely different. Like if I hung some watercolors up of cancer cells and the alteration of our bodies, in a way they're beautiful watercolors but you wouldn't get that sense of that environment, that enclosed area as you would with an installation I'm doing at SPACES.

Finally, when people walk away from "Manic Growth" what do you think they'll take away?

I hope they would kind of understand where I'm coming from with living naturally and walk away with some knowledge of what we're doing to ourselves. I believe that we are altering our environment and it's essentially harming us. Basically, I'd like people to be aware of what we're doing to our bodies.

"Manic Growth" appears Fri 2/11 through Fri 4/1 @ SPACES, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland. Gallery hours are 12 to 5PM Tue through Sun; 12 to 8PM on Thu and they're closed on Mon. Call 216-621-2314.


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