1.) Introduce yourself!
My name is Erin Sweigard. I grew up in Milton, Pennsylvania and currently live and work as an artist in Marion, Indiana.
2.) Do you have a day job? What does that look like?
I work as an art studio manager for Center Hall at Indiana Wesleyan University. The building is an elementary school repurposed into art studios. It’s kind of a strange endearing place. I love it. I have the opportunity to work with students and professors to provide safety training materials for the studio equipment/spaces in this building.
3.) Work and life balance. What does a typical day look like? Routines or Rituals?
I am a creature of habit. I usually get up around the same time and eat the same thing for breakfast every morning. My day job is actually second shift so I normally head to the studio for a few hours before I have to be at work in the evening. It’s been a challenge finding a good routine to stick to. Getting up early and working at night leaves less time for sleep so sometimes I don’t always have a lot of energy to dedicate to studio time in the morning. I found switching up the routine from time to time is necessary for me to recharge and to not feel guilty for taking a break when I need it.
4.) You work across several different mediums and materials. How did you get to that place?
I'm notorious for being indecisive and a mild studio packrat. I am a tactile person and have to learn by doing. I found that I am more excited about my work when, in the process, I get to play and arrange different materials instead of focusing on one medium. I collect a lot of random things that I may or may not use for future work. My sculpture class in undergrad really influenced this way of working. I think it taught me how to see potential in found objects/material, study it, sketch it, and make it into something new.
5.) How has your work developed over the last couple years?
The last couple of years have been challenging. A lot of the things I made in this time frame after school felt like grunt work that I wasn’t excited about. Right out of school I wanted to continue exploring installation and sculpture work but had a hard time getting started. You need space, tools, and materials to make objects and I didn’t have that right away. I started developing a studio routine hoping that other ideas would generate from practicing being consistent and just showing up. A few months after graduating I started working two part time jobs. Juggling my work schedules and trying to develop my work I think led me back to painting and drawing more. I had limited time to figure out what I wanted to make and these materials made sense to me.
6.) Can you talk about the transition from your dryer sheet installation to the works in this show?
I started collecting used dryer sheets for my work in undergrad. I used them in a few paintings then eventually for a couple different installations. I don’t think I am done with this material, I just stepped away from it for a little bit. My recent work is mostly painting and drawing. Some of the work in this show is still really new to me, mostly the TV dinner. I haven’t had much space from it yet. The style feels different from my other work, but I think it occupies a similar mental space. With the dryer sheet work, and the wall paper drawings in the show there is a repetitive action that happened to make those pieces. For the wallpaper, drawing the same thing over and over until the pattern is complete. The dryer sheets, stretching and piecing them together. I had to be present and aware of what I was doing to complete it. After a while both of those processes can either be mind numbing or enjoyable because the next step is predictable. I think that’s where I draw connections to the tv dinner painting. It represents a ready made meal produced in a factory, something that can easily be consumed without thinking about it.
photographs by Sophie Stewart
7.) Are you trying to communicate anything in particular with your work?
I am interested in psychological aspects of repetition. When something repeats itself over time it can become familiar, automatic and eventually overlooked. In this body of work I’m using manufactured household objects and imagery to reflect on its influence in societal structures.
photographs by Sophie Stewart
8.) What project are you working on now or excited to start?
I am looking forward to revisiting some instillation ideas and experiment with some new materials after this show.
9.) What are a few of your favorite things?
Podcasts (especially On Being with Krista Tippett), walking in Matter park, pancakes, cortados, reading.
10.) Favorite living artists?
Rachel Whiteread, Barbra Kruger, Richard Tuttle, Ann Hamilton, Diana Al-Hadid, Rachel Mica Weiss.