Picture of the Week: Red by Sandra Osip

April 8, 2023

Red, Sandra Osip, wood, paint and tar 2020, 32 x 23 x 8 in.

Sandra Osip is a notable Michigan-born artist. She earned her BS from Wayne State University and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including Confluent: Detroit Art and the University Art Collection at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State in 2022, a solo show at Five Myles Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, in 2015, the Contemporary Sculpture Show at the Chesterwood Museum in Stockbridge, MA in 2005, and the solo show “Part to Part” at the Hill Gallery in Birmingham, MI in 1987, among many more solo and group exhibitions. Osip’s artwork is part of the Karen and Robert Duncan Collection, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Ray-O-Vac Collection, Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and 1st National Bank of Chicago in Chicago, IL. 

In 1990, Osip moved to New York, where her work was displayed in Tiffany Windows on 5th Avenue and 57th Street “and received a prestigious New York Foundation of Arts Award." She also spent some time in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where she had the MacDowell Colony residency in 1992. Osip returned to Detroit in 2019, where she currently has a studio at the Russell Industrial Center. In addition to the New York Foundation of Arts Award in 1993 and the MacDowell Colony residency 1992, Osip was also the recipient of Artist Fellowships at the Michigan Council of the Arts in 1989 and 1986, 1st place from MCA at the Michigan Sculpture II Show at Southfield Civic Center, 1st place at the Woodend Sculpture Show in Chevy Chase, MD, 2nd place at “Art Quest” in Los Angeles, CA, and a Gold Medal at “International Art Competition” in Los Angeles, CA.  

Osip’s work is meant to reflect the current state of the world we live in. Using a diverse array of materials, she meditates on the present “uncertainty, if not downright chaos of these times.” Osip believes this state of chaos is “the result of the great inequities that exist in our society.” Through her sculptural works, and eclectic use of materials within them, Osip seeks to visually communicate “the consequences of these inequities and the resulting turmoil.” The turmoil she reflects on includes the ruins caused by natural disasters such as “mudslides, fires, floods and tornadoes due to global warming.” Osip specifies that “the driving impetus and inspiration” for her work is “the deep loss caused by global warming.” Additionally, she shares that over the past thirty years, “cycles of life and death” have been recurring themes in her sculptures. 

In her 2020 work Red, she employs wood, red paint, and tar to create the appearance of ruins. The lumpy, thick texture of the tar is evident throughout the sculpture and further emphasized by the red paint. Osip’s choice of red for the paint and title of the work in turn evokes the mood of the sculpture; The color red is often associated with caution and danger, and she appears to adhere to this connotation with her representation of turmoil. Sharp, jagged edges of wood stick out from all directions, accentuating the aftermath of a natural disaster. More specifically, the culmination of wood, paint, and tar illustrates the destruction caused by a fire. Her fragmented, yet rectangular forms convey the illusion that these damaged forms were once part of a building, prior to the devastation of the fire.

Perhaps the year Osip composed this sculpture, 2020, can also align with themes of recurring cycles of life and death in more ways than one. 2020 was the year that the COVID-19 pandemic reached its horrific peak. People all over the world fell ill, with at least 3 million people dying at the hand of the virus, as documented by the World Health Organization. The pandemic also brought with it economic turmoil, with countless people losing their jobs and businesses. While Osip’s Red illustrates destruction as a result of a fire, perhaps it can also allude to the global destruction and turmoil of COVID-19. Be it the destruction of land or lives, Osip’s Red prompts viewers to confront a visual representation of death and destruction, while in turn reflecting on the remnants of the life that once was.

Written by Angela Athnasios

Sources: Sandra Osip





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