Elif Soyer: Bycatch

May 5-30, 2021
Opening Reception: (following socially distanced guidelines) Friday, May 7, 2021, 5:00-8:00 pm

  • Elif Soyer

    Down Below, mixed media, 52 x 60 inches, 2019-2021.

    Down Below
  • Elif Soyer

    My Bedroom When I Was Little, mixed media, 52 x 60 inches, 2019-2021.

    My Bedroom When I Was Little
  • Elif Soyer

    Fish, mixed media, 52 x 60 inches, 2019-2021.

  • Elif Soyer

    Akvaryum, mixed media, 47 x 112 inches, 2019-2021.

  • Elif Soyer

    Rabbit, mixed media, 52 x 60 inches, 2019-2021.

  • Elif Soyer

    Follow the Void, mixed media, 52 x 60 inches, 2019-2021.

    Follow the Void

Artist Page
Press Release
Whitcomb, Robert. "The Joy of Junk Mail." New England Diary, May 8, 2021.

Artist Statement

I called this body of work "Bycatch" which is a term the fishing industry uses for the "incidental capture of non-target species". My bycatch is that of images, artistic expression and thoughts, and reports of current events big and small. Those of you who saw my work in "Balance Due" and "Daily" at Kingston may recognize this line of exploration. Those projects started as an attempt to journal while repurposing mounds of unsolicited junk mail. I layered the mundane over the mundane and as I worked. The mundane then helped me think about the not so mundane, and while I didn't record most of what I was thinking, I was thinking it as I worked—so the act itself or the expenditure of energy was transcribed into a more permanent record as the work progressed. I also incorporated "refuse" from previous projects. I knew mid-way through hanging the last show that this is a theme that I would keep drawing on.

For this endeavor I chose to make the work its own "canvas", creating a background with layers of leftover paint, scraps of old work and materials as well as mail, bills and other paper correspondence. When I had six backgrounds (nets for bycatch) prepared, I started layering into them. Then the pandemic hit, and time expanded for us all. The mundane became more central to our lives as we had nowhere to go, hiding from the invisible. With NPR in the background in my studio, news of the pandemic started becoming part of the work. As we all became more and more isolated, television and the radio started informing the layering. As my "real" environment contracted, I felt rewarded that the space I was creating on the surface expanded into itself more and more.

The materials, the drawing, writing and painting are informed by the way I see; space filled with layers and layers, textures, forms and contrast yet always space - the eye takes in so much, the net captures what was not intentionally looked for as well as my original focus. My friends and family say that my untraditional aesthetic must be influenced by my bi-cultural Turkish/American upbringing, surrounded by mosaics, textiles and tapestries rich in contrast. My by-catch collects clashing materials that co-exist just the same, and eventually manage to coalesce into their own environment.

By-catch captured materials: paper, pencil, acrylic, cloth, string, tempera, pen, watercolor, bills.

By-catch captured imagery including but not limited to: lichen, ear canal, viruses, eyeballs, branches, phrases, fish, neurons, plants.

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