Erin Sullivan is a New York-based artist-designer who works principally in bronze to produce fine objects and furniture. Formally trained in classic sculpture, painting and drawing, she approaches her work as an artist more than as an industrial designer. What results is this collection—15 home furnishings and decor objects that are, effectively, a cross between aesthetic sculpture and domestic functionality. Each piece is sensual, spiritual and acutely original. When considered as a whole, the collection is a study of natural beauty and balance, form and context.
The allure of bronze as a primary material transpired at a young age with the artist’s interest in sculpture and Intaglio printmaking. More drawn to plate textures created through the acid process than the final printed paper, Erin first channeled this fascination with metal into jewelry and ultimately into jewel-like objects and furniture. The transition in scale occurred in a pure and simple moment when looking at old sketches of rings and bracelets. The resulting collection ostensibly stems from a selfish desire for the things she wants to see in her own home and the objects that she wants to live with.
Once an idea is committed to paper, Erin either sculpts a model using wax reproductions created from a natural object or creates a three-dimensional rendering and subsequent rapid prototype. A mold of the final model follows, from which a duplicate wax positive is produced. Once this wax is “chased” or reworked, with great attention paid to detail, “gates” or wax rods are attached to create channels for the molten bronze to travel through. The whole structure is then dipped, poured, devested, sandblasted, welded, chased, re-detailed, polished and patinated. Depending on the size of the piece, the process can take three months from start to finish. The labor involved is intricate and intense.
If sensuality is the artist’s primary impulse, polarity is secondary. The physical process behind a piece provides an interesting juxtaposition to the object’s origin. Many of her delicate ring and bracelet sketches eventually evolved into imposing tables and stools. The initial elements of preciousness were effectively enlarged and the masculine process and material from which each piece is made acts in basic opposition to Erin’s persistent fascination with the feminine.
Erin’s interest in spirituality and the creation of her own language through icons and imagery is also an integral element to the collection. Deeply influenced by her world travels and interactions with indigenous cultures and rituals, a thread of global spirituality runs through every piece. Each one is the artist’s expression of the sensual, the natural and the mythical, woven with her own personal narrative.
However, the dominant inspiration behind the collection is the natural world and the artist’s unwavering reverence for aliveness. The work is informed by reality, which allows an interesting and fundamental dichotomy to exist between the translation of her fanciful thoughts into objects, and the solidity of her chosen robust medium. Each piece is fittingly expressed in bronze because of the alloy’s resilience and longevity. Meant to live in the home, Erin Sullivan Objects are powerful, dramatic and meaningful.