Emma Strebel is a Global Academic Fellow of Visual Arts at NYUAD. Her primary focus is sculpture. In this interview, she talks about her recent show Dimensions and her love for shadows.
Q: What’s your artistic background?
A (Emma): I just graduated from NYU in New York with a BFA in sculpture. I have been doing conceptual sculpture since high school.
Q: What is your vision and inspiration for this installation?
A: To start, I have been fairly obsessed with shadows for many many years, much longer than I have been doing conceptual sculpture. I get a lot of inspiration from life around me - I think most artists do. Shadows have always caught my eye, and I am always working with this idea that shadows are all around us. Light is the only way that we can perceive and see our surroundings, but light does not exist without shadow. This sort of counterpart of shadow is always where my thoughts come back to.
Q: How did you come up with the concept for this piece?
A: I thought of this piece quite a while ago. When you interact with light, you cast a shadow on different parts of space. This idea has been lingering over in my head in different forms for many many years. But specifically using string in space ... it just came out of having some string in my studio. As most things do.
Q: What is the meaning behind the title "Dimensions"?
A: Often times we perceive shadows very literally. We perceive shadow on a two dimensional field when we talk about dimensions. When light hits an object, we all see a shadow. But the shadow actually exists also in that in-between-space as well. So between the hand and my floor there is also shadow. You just can’t see it. The idea that something exists, but just can't be seen is really fascinating to me, both metaphorically and philosophically. Things you can see and understand are not always so easy to see and understand. There is so much that happens in between you and me. It's the way we position ourselves here, in space, and the way these interactions go that I’m interested in.
Q: How do you expect people to react to or feel it?
A: I hope that people actually interact by moving through the light. It’s hard to get people to feel comfortable doing odd movements and look around and change perspectives. But my hope is that there is a lot of movement through space and people will see the piece from different perspectives. There is a video every three minutes that loops around, so if you stay long enough, there is a fast shadow that walks through the screen.
Q: Are you thinking about doing another installation in the future?
A: I am definitely always thinking about the next installation. There are so many pieces that I have been inspired to do. Because I am here (at NYUAD), I want to do some site-specific pieces before I leave. I tend to be very interested in site-specific work.
Q: What do you think makes a good art?
A: It’s hard to say good or bad. Even on a personal level, you can see a piece one day and be like “that’s not good”, but the next day, it just resonates with you. It kind of depends on your mental state ... also everybody is in different places in their lives. For me, what I really resonate with is an immersive experience: something that makes me question or consider what life is and what the world has to offer. There is this CLICK that feels right and often times not very logical. That click can happen with art, with nature, with conversations, or with an amazing meal. Spark-clicking happens all the time. That’s what I try to go for with my work, and that's the type of work I am general drawn to.