Written by Amy DeCaussin
Director of Projects & Social Media
I had the opportunity to sit down with Sean Deckert while he is in the midst of a very busy schedule. He is in the process of moving to Los Angeles this week as well as hang up his gallery show at The Lodge Art Studio on Grand Ave. in Phoenix. While we sat and talked at Lux coffee shop, a handful of different folks came by and said hello. I got the sense that Sean has a pretty strong network here in Phoenix and that he is well liked in the community. After our brief chat it wasn’t difficult to see why. Sean has deep waters running through him. He has a genuine concern for the environment as well as a love for beauty. There is a peaceful tone to his personality as he explains that his work is not about shoving facts down people’s throats, but rather generating thoughts and conversations around his chosen subject.
The show this Friday, “Phoenix Retrospect” is centered around his time in Phoenix and his series “Smoke in Mirrors,” a project he created while attending Arizona State University. “Smoke in Mirrors” addresses the concept of Urban Heat Island or UHI. According to National Geographic, a UHI is a “city area that is always warmer than the surrounding area.” This is due to many factors including building walls and cement surfaces, lack of vegetation and a concentration of motorized vehicles. Phoenix, sitting in a desert valley is a a great location to explore this concept. Sean’s body of work provokes thought on the subject through holographic photography that hangs in the gallery space, apart from the wall creating a more rounded presentation. The images feature a dust storm tearing through the city and he wants the viewer to have an interactive experience as they move through the space. The images change as the viewer moves around. Sean’s goal is to keep people thinking about these environmental events which are fleeting with the passage of time and the change of seasons. They continue to recur, however, and are believed to be caused by problems that are not so fleeting.
Sean’s artwork lends itself to the concept of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Through various projects, he has discovered that keeping balance between the STEM and the art component are a challenge. Finding resources for the science information can be time-consuming and expensive. In one of his projects, “PULS” he purchased a very expensive infrared camera. He blended the images with traditional photography in order to show how the effects that reflection caused by man-made surfaces can create extra heat in urban areas. He ended up contacting the camera manufacturer to acquire software which he used to create data analysis.
Sean presented his work at the Society for Photographic Education in San Francisco, CA. The curators liked his project “Smoke in Mirrors” but felt that “PULS” was too scientific. It can be difficult for a project that tightly binds art and science together to be accepted in the art world. We often make sense of the world by placing everything into categories, boxes. When something falls into more than one box, there is a sense of confusion. That is the problem with projects that are centrally STEAM focused. The audience requires a lot of education in order to understand what they are seeing. All of this is time-consuming and for Sean, it pulls the focus away from the original passion, art. The feedback he received molded the direction that he wishes to take in the future. Although Sean will continue to focus on scientific and environmental themes, moving forward, his work will generally belong in a gallery setting.
Sean’s gallery show at The Lodge will only be up for 24 hours before he heads out of town. The solo show will include lenticulars, video, sculpture, silver gelatin prints, Polaroids & time-lapse prints. Head downtown to The Lodge to check it out.
Sean Deckert – Phoenix Retrospective
Friday, May 1st 7:00pm-10:30pm
1231 NW Grand Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Laboratory5 Inc. is a small business based in Tempe, Arizona