Architect and artist Karlyn Sutherland discovered the power and magic of the hand sketch at an early age.
“In high school I always enjoyed drawing – hand drawings to represent spaces.,” the Scottish architect with a masters and PhD from the University of Edinburgh says. “And I had an understanding of optical illusions.”
Now she pairs drawing and optical illusions for a dialog that pulls in different directions. “I’ll do a sketch with a foreground, middle ground, and background – and then interpret that in glass,” she says.
This evening from 6-8 PM, Heller Gallery in New York will hold an opening reception with an exhibition of 10 of her works of art – some wall mounted and others as tables in three dimensions.
She focuses on a longstanding interest in the connection between memory and place, with a response to the atmosphere created by the play of light and shadow within architectural forms.
Her preferred medium is glass from Bullseye Glass in Portland, Ore. “I cut and assemble it and fuse it together in a kiln,” she says.
Currently on a one-year Fulbright research grant in Corning, N.Y., Sutherland is developing and exploring an experimental strategy capable of aiding the appreciation, understanding, and creation of atmospheres of place within architecture.
“I’m interested in the relationships people have with the environment they live in and work in – and the sense of attachment that informs our memory,” she says. “The way I arrange it is to give an illusion of more space than what’s there. It’s about atmosphere, and memory of what places felt like.”
She uses perspective drawing as a tool to contemplate and communicate feelings of detachment, and makes those experience material. “Drawing by hand was the catalyst for this,” she says. “The tables in the exhibition are like line drawings.”
She notes that the architecture practice relies heavily on technology that results in designers thinking differently and are not as engaged as they might be by drawing. “In architectural rendering you get a false reality that can’t be achieved,” she says. “You can use a computer as a tool, but you need a balance.”
The exhibition will be on view at the gallery at 303 10th Avenue, from June 10 to July 15. Tonight’s opening reception will offer an in-gallery conversation between Sutherland and curator/writer Glenn Adamson.
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