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Sean Morrisey’s work is based upon how humans are effecting the environment through American suburban homes and also the identity which is made by the new up and coming generation of 20 somethings in America.  In addition to that, his work also explores the materials used in construction and the irony of consumerism.  He uses several techniques in producing his prints which include screenprinting, digital prints, and chine colle. Sean also created short term installations made of cut paper which were documented in his studio in Pittsburg. Sean’s prints make use of positive and negative shapes, flat planes of color. The majority of work that he showed us during his lecture was from his Graduate School education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Sean currently is living and working in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and is a visiting artist this week here at the Myers School of Art.

       His places of residence directly effects his prints, and that included the weather and atmosphere too. The weather, socio-economic disparities, and suburban community of Lincoln Nebraska highly effected, and in my opinion, fueled his work through grad school. Geometric shapes found in everyday life such as parking lot lines, water grates, railings, and other geometric industrial shapes were Sean’s interests in his prints following the completion of his undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Bowling Green. This slowly evolved into a more suburban focus in building materials and construction. He also used the sub structures of  buildings such as beams and posts.

        The shapes of windows on upper middle class houses in comparison to those of the projects apartments were fascinating enough for Sean to explore through overlapping and layering the shapes in an indefinite space. Another development in his work was his observation of awnings and crown molding not only inside of homes, but the odd way it has been included on the top of shopping centers and businesses. This lead into his interest in the shells of houses in the stages of construction (specifically suburban homes).These prints were the beams of houses still in construction set upon a solid blue background (or a gradient of orange and yellow).  

      Continuing from that same vein of thought, another series of prints based on how these structures are affecting the environment, from the shape of the houses, to patterns that lawns are mowed in appeared. The majority of these prints were the result of Sean being in communication with high school friends who were now “settling down” into American suburbia.  He found through studying the obsessive manicuring of lawns from the people living in suburban Lincoln, Nebraska, that no one seemed to care about the sidewalks, and did a small edition of prints based on sidewalk shapes and patterns, but instead of using colors indicative of sidewalk cement, he used samples of faux marble that is used for kitchen counters.  At that point, Sean began incorporating colors and textures used in wallpaper swatches from companies like Martha Stewart and Lowe’s to further comment on the social identity that people begin to conform to as adults buying their first homes.  Some of the color swatches sold by Martha Stewart have ridiculous names which do not correspond with the actual color. For example, the swatch “cloudless  day” is actually a very dull and gray shade of blue, almost ashen. And yet people are painting their children’s bedrooms with it.

     I really liked the fact that his work was directly affected by what was around him, not only focused on it’s concept. Sean directly observed homes and neighborhoods while in Lincoln and the quirky nuances of all that goes into buying a contemporary home. I  found it interesting that the way we live (that is the way most of our houses are designed and the design choices of interior decorating) is not really determined by us. Pre-prescribed color swatches, floor plans, and décor are laid out in a short order menu, and yet because of the marketing of these things, everyone naturally assumes that they are making an individualized decision when they go to Sherwin-Williams to pick up paint for the kitchen. I think it says a lot of American consumerism and culture. We pride ourselves on being individuals, but are we really?
I wrote this short essay in response of a lecture given by printmaker Sean Morrissey in October 2009. 

This work may not be used without proper credit.
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Submitted on
November 29, 2013
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