Merely – Emily Kopec
Emily Kopec (New Jersey, 1999) is a conceptual artist who uses recycled clothing and household objects to explore the deconstruction and reconstruction of bodily forms through material. Her work is informed by her studies in German and Psychology, and by her Austrian heritage. Kopec will receive her BA in Studio Art, Psychology, and German Studies from Vanderbilt University in 2021.
Merely is a constellation of sculptures made with recycled dress shirts and shoe soles. The artist deconstructed shirts into their functional parts, including the sleeves, chest, back, and collar, sewed and weaved those pieces, and recombined them into new forms. The shoe sculptures dissolve the singular identity of each pair of shoes to create relationships between aggregates of shoe soles and scraps. With orienting the discarded shoe sole scraps in a circular direction, there is an apparent indefinite movement suggested in the piece. Merely explores an unquantifiable human presence that questions the viewer’s relation to themselves and others. Influenced by critical theorists such as Hegel, Adorno, and Horkheimer, the artist uses sculptural forms to question instrumental rationality; within each sculpture it is unclear how many bodies are represented, and how those bodies relate to the body of the viewer. This disruption of instrumental reason, the inability to identify the quantity or identity of the bodies in the way typically experienced when one encounters another, evokes feelings of loss, confusion, humor, and reconnection.