Briefly describe the work you do.
Working primarily in sculpture, installation and photography, my practice is concerned with the perception of the corporeal and the mechanics behind such material negotiation. Drawing from the aesthetics and devices of body oriented objects such as furniture, exercise equipment and ergonomics, my work extends the psychological-body through various imagined scenarios. I also work collaboratively with my partner, Bradley Tsalyuk. Our collaborative practice has allowed for larger scale works and a collision of interests.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in Birmingham Alabama, which is not exactly an artistic Mecca. However, I was able to attend a pretty rigorous art magnet high school for six years, which looking back probably saved me in a lot of ways.
My mother died when I was nine years old. While attending the open casket funeral, I was able to internalized her bodily presence and absence in tandem. This incident of multi-stable awareness fundamentally structured my relationship to the material world and spurred an ongoing obsession with psychological and corporeal perception. My artistic practice has been greatly informed by this cognitive shift and naturally has gravitated towards sculpture and material studies.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
For the past year and a half I have shared my studio space with my partner and collaborator in our home. This method is both convenient and cost efficient. When we are feeling claustrophobic and insular we will plan a larger project outdoors or put together an open studio event.
I thrive in the studio. It is where the action happens. I certainly conduct research outside of the studio and will sometimes put together a traveling photo series, but in the traditional sense, I rely on the studio as my universe. Many artists (photographers in particular) have been returning to the studio in recent years and there seems to be a lot of conversation around the validating of this return. This interests me.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
In addition to my independent work, I work collaboratively with my partner on large-scale sculptures and installations. Being an only child, I never imagined working intimately and making decisions with someone, let alone my significant other. It happened organically and has been successful thus far.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I work when I can, mostly weekends. I’m a big believer in Flow Theory and have to be working on multiple projects at once. If paint or glue needs to dry, I will just set it aside and move on to the next one. If it’s a good weekend and I don’t have too many errands to run, I will work through the afternoon, break for dinner, and work into the evening. Music is a must as is some kind of drink; coffee, wine, tea, Gatorade, etc.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Five years ago I was eighteen, eager, naïve and enthusiastic. As expected, I have since become more broadly aware and gained many skills (both mental and technical). However, the only significant change in my work over the past five years is the level of critical rigor I apply to myself. Like with most art colleges, my undergraduate institution taught me to be critical and have an answer for every action. While criticality is good to some degree, my practice is still very much the same as it was five years ago. I continue to rely upon my interests and impulses as my guiding force and have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and experimentation.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
As far as a single person, my partner and collaborator has probably had the most impact on my work. Understanding the way he makes decisions has helped me to understand my own mental preferences.
I tend to focus on little peculiar topics that interest me and will then read various articles on that subject. They are sometimes art related, artist interviews or critical essays, but are other times completely tangential, like the product safety reports of baby cribs and playpens.
These tend to be more influential than a single person.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
In my wildest fantasy, I would love to be a surgeon of some kind. You are able to explore and repair the body in real time, as it is pulsing and breathing.
Corey Dunlap (b. 1990) earned his BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston in 2013. He has shown nationally and internationally including Suffolk University in Boston Massachusetts, Grace Performance Space in New York City, and The Old Ambulance Depot in Edinburgh Scotland. He is a recipient of the 2013 Stephen D. Paine Fellowship and recently completed the ACRE residency in Steuben Wisconsin. Corey Dunlap currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.