Step into the world of artist Cory Sewelson’s fantastic architectural and figurative landscapes to experience a strange juxtaposition of buildings, animals and amusement park offerings. Visit his website to see more.
We use architecture as our way of relating to nature and to each other. This is the subject I’ve been interested in exploring in my art. For the past several years it has evolved and been influenced by several aspects of my life that all seem to have converged at this point in time.
Back before I decided to study art in college, I had begun school as a biology major. After school, I worked a “day job” for many years as a creative director for the Disney theme parks. Whether it was a gigantic saltwater aquarium attraction, or an African Safari ride, or a “Dining with the Elephants Restaurant,” several of my projects included live animals and their habitats as part of the experience and design.
Thoughts about our relationship to nature and other species continued to hover in the front of mind. Over the years, by working with architects on these projects, I came to appreciate how to look at the world through the lens of architecture. All together these studies and experiences have combined and resonated in me in a very personal, hands-on way; compelling me to understand the view that architecture is our very human way of relating to the world.
I’ve found that a rich body of metaphorical imagery emerges from this view that is useful in creating my narrative paintings. These paintings are more dreamlike than literal in their storytelling, but they are a kind of autobiography made up of my personal history and those experiences.
The structures that we build serve to provide shelter and safety in ways that allow us to thrive. They are all tailored in very specific ways to support how we live, work, practice religion, or indulge in recreation. We zone and district our structures as patricians and our activities further satisfy our social needs.
My current series of work, Fun House, uses a mash up of visual elements and references that combine amusement park icons and attractions with residential houses. They merge and coexist in Surrealist landscapes that defy our usual tendencies toward separating these activities and social functions.
In juxtaposing these normally disparate elements, I’m trying to force an awareness of how we usually organize our lives. I like the memories, emotions, and connections that are uncovered when these normal boundaries are removed.
In other portrait/self-portrait pieces, the use of this mixed-up iconography comments on our psychology and the fragmentation found in our typical daily lives. I hope to provoke a re-evaluation of our assumptions about the world and how we choose to live in it.
Most of my pieces are acrylic and oil paint on cradled hardboard. I begin working by hand sketching and using digital drawing, and digital collage to create the imagery and composition in my pieces.
Other works use physical collage, i.e. paper and miscellaneous materials, to achieve texture and layering qualities. Regardless, I feel my images are constructed, layered and built and so share a process similar to that of constructing architecture.