Floods and Shelters
Sean Caulfield’s creative research involves the production of artist’s books, prints, drawings and installations that explore the impact of technology on the environment and our bodies. He is interested in creating visual images that blur boundaries between the biological and the technological, the organic and the mechanical, and challenge viewers to consider the implications of this merging. This interest has led him to create prints and print installations that refer to both mechanistic and naturalistic forms in order to explore themes of mutation, metamorphosis and biology/technology dichotomies. The work often references historic scientific illustrations/objects, fictional science and biological forms, while simultaneously suggesting an imagined world of myth or religious cosmology. Images often move between abstraction and representation, so that narratives and associations to the real world are implied but left open-ended and unresolved. The drawings often fluctuate between microscopic and macroscopic readings, on the one hand suggesting veins or capillaries within the interior of a body, and on the other hand large-scale maps depicting river systems. Although the work looks to the past for inspiration, its merging of mechanistic and organic languages is intended to point viewers towards a contemporary context in which advances in technology are rapidly changing our relationship to the natural world, biology and our own bodies. Click below to download the accompanying brochure, with text by Heather Caverhill.
Caulfield’s interest in woodblock relates to its history as one of the earliest forms of printing, and its use in scientific/medical illustrations. In relation to this, he often exhibits the actual woodblocks as sculptural objects together with the prints, in order to create a monumental “book”, reminding viewers of the weight of the scientific knowledge found in this history of the printed image. Likewise, he is also interested in exploring the tactile, hand-made quality of the woodblock image, which stands in contrast to current digital printing technology, creating a different lens from which to view our contemporary context. He is also drawn to the formal limitations of woodblock, which generate a unique graphic language that seems ideally suited to exploring contemporary feelings of anxiety and fear associated with current technology.
Sean Caulfield is a Centennial Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta. He has exhibited his prints, drawings and artist’s books extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and Japan. Recent exhibitions include: Perceptions of Promise, Chelsea Art Museum (New York, NY) / Glenbow Museum (Calgary, AB); The New World, The Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art (Debrecen, Hungary); Imagining Science, Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton, AB). Caulfield has received numerous grants and awards for his work including: Triennial Prize at the 2nd Bangkok Triennial International Print and Drawing Exhibition (Bangkok, Thailand); SSHRC Dissemination Grant: Canadian Stem Cell Network Impact Grant; SSHRC Fine Arts Creation Grant; Canada Council Travel Grant; and a Visual Arts Fellowship, Illinois Arts Council. Caulfield’s work is in various public and private collections including: Houghton Library, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA); Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, England); Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas (Austin, TX).