Sara Cwynar

Photography Christian MacDonald

Published December 2, 2015

AGE: 30.

ORIGINALLY FROM: Vancouver, grew up in Ottawa, Canada.

CURRENTLY LIVE: Mostly New Haven, CT, and sometimes Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

GALLERY: Foxy Production, New York.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK: My work re-presents found images and text, which I rework in the studio through photography, video, and bookmaking.

WHEN YOU FIRST CONSIDERED YOURSELF A FULL-TIME ARTIST: I was a part-time artist for a long time; I worked a full-time job as a graphic designer at The New York Times Magazine. So the answer would be, the day I left my full-time job at the Times, which was only about two and half years ago.

THE MOST CHALLENGING OR SUCCESSFUL WORK YOU’VE MADE: I’ve been working in 16mm video of late, and I’m really excited to bring text back into my projects through voiceover—the possibilities for combining dry theory, personal thoughts, and popular imagery into something digestible and poppy. I also made a series called Flat Death, which explores the different ways that value in images can warp or wane over time (for example, how a highly fashionable commercial image so quickly fades out of style—I think a lot about how the most stylish images are the ones to date the most quickly) and uses a lot of different strategies for manipulating photographs. Some are scans of old photographs run through a scanner the wrong way, so that they are essentially reprinted glitches; others are obsessively reworked floral still lifes. I also made photographs of plastic cups with historical architectural qualities (for example, a party cup that looks like a Roman ruin), and there is an idealized nature photograph of a toucan with all the leaves remade out of Post-it notes.

THE MOST SURPRISING REACTION TO YOUR WORK YOU’VE RECEIVED: I hear frequently that my work looks too much like a graphic designer made it, but I think that there is a real potential in using a set of skills essentially built for selling something in service of a criticism of those same forces.

DOES THE CURRENT ART WORLD FOSTER OR DEVOUR TALENT?  It mostly devours it, but I also think it is an exciting time to be a young artist. The field of opportunities to have something seen outside a traditional context has opened up quite drastically.

FAVORITE LIVING ARTIST: Cindy Sherman—she’s the best.

FAVORITE SONG: “Ceremony” by New Order.

DO YOU LIKE HOW YOUR WORK APPEARS ON THE INTERNET? No! In fact, I often intentionally make images that are too complicated to be able to read on a computer screen.