My artistic practice has evolved from creating work that utilizes textile materials and processes which resonate with the history of women’s labor, emphasizing their dual fragility and strength, to treating hard, structural materials like wood as textiles, emphasizing their softness and malleability. Formally, I have been interested in how the drawn line unfolds in space and how to draw in space and with space—all around the viewer. A goal has been to move from using a representational, two-dimensional line to creating dimensional, drawn compositions that play between figuration and abstraction in order to draw attention to the body and space.
My most recent body of work, Spatial Drawings, focuses on the processes of material and spatial transformation and engages formal elements of sculpture such as gravity, structure and tension. The works are comprised of several large-scale sculptures made of interconnected, hand-bent, solid hardwood planks whose curves and twists create swirling “drawings” in three-dimensional space. By rendering solid hardwood pliable and then bending it in unusual ways, I treat the wood as a kind of three-dimensional thread. The unexpected torsion of the wood and the configurations of these forms present the viewer with contradictions: on the one hand, between material and form, and on the other hand, between the made and the process of making. Objects culled from my studio present evidence that an artistic process is underway, while also confounding the role of the site of production. By incorporating these studio objects into the work, the sculptures themselves appear to be performing the “work,” thereby humorously obscuring the lines between domestic labor and studio work. The bends and twists of the planks and the ways in which the pieces perform their own malleability are suggestive of the possible angles, positions, and contortions of the body, and their oscillating structure guide the viewer’s movement through space.
Artist Bio / CV
Canadian, b. 1980.
Emily Hermant is an interdisciplinary artist whose large-scale sculptures, installations, and drawings, explore themes of communication, labor, and gender, and are imbued with a profound sense of embodiment. Hermant received her BFA from Concordia University in 2004 and her MFA as a Trustee Merit Scholar from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Evanston Art Center, The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, and CIRCA in Montréal; and group exhibitions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Triennale di Milano Museum in Italy, and the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. Her work has been reviewed in ArtSlant, Espace Sculpture, The Washington Post, Time Out Chicago, and American Craft Magazine, among others. Hermant has been awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec, and the Fonds Québecois de Recherche sur la société et la culture, as well as residencies at ACRE, The Millay Colony for the Arts, The Vermont Studio Center, and Studio XX. Hermant is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Fibres and Material Practices program in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University.