Laurie Sumiye

Special Residency at Merzbarn, Cylinders, Elterwater, Cumbria

1-15 October 2011

As an artist, Laurie Sumiye’s identity and perception has constantly been challenged by cities that she has lived in since moving away from Hawaii, where she was born. Her constant movement during the past 16 years, from Peoria, Illinois, to Florence to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to New York and now London, inspired her project at the Merzbarn.  Making use of opportunites presented by her nomadic existence, she investigates how people and living things adapt to survive and change in relationship to their environment.

How an environment affects people (real or artificial), has led her towards documentary forms and ethnographic research blending themes of urbanism, environmentalism, sustainability and science-fiction. Her aesthetic suggests a virtual collage of found visual detritus; magazine ads, TV commercials, Google images, YouTube videos, personal documents, original illustrations, photographs, films, and writings, becoming an analog-digital hybrid that reflects her modern, technology-filled life.

Laurie’s project for the Merzbarn Residency, Unplant / Transplant is an art project that documents her attempts to successfully transplant a cutting from a native Hawaiian hibiscus plant into a host destination. Unplant / Transplant connects globalization, exotic plant trade, and the concept of “native” and “endemic” vs. “non-native” and “foreign.” Used to define flora and fauna in conservation and ecology, the dialectic of indigenous and introduced species can be brought into the vernacular of people, touching upon issues of immigration and “transplant” culture.