2011 NVA Winner: Sara Cwynar

[Editor’s note: for the next 20 days we will be profiling this year’s New Visual Artists. To see more of the winners’ work (and to see the special feature section guest designed by Counterspace) download the digital version here, or pick up the April issue on newsstands now.]

By the Print staff

Title/Type of Work: Artist, Photographer, Graphic Designer
From: Ottawa, Canada
Lives in: New York
Age: 25
Education: BA, Graphic Design, York University/Sheridan College, Toronto, Ontario

Sara Cwynar’s life has been dominated by magazines. She describes her existence since childhood as one surrounded by mountains of glossy publications, and uses this as a primary source in her work, particularly the process of archiving printed ephemera. “I’m equally interested in design and photography,” Cwynar says. “I love the colors that you find in old printed matter; I love a faded emerald green or a nice salmon pink. I love the idea of finding someone’s discarded personal archive. I hoard this kind of stuff and then try to incorporate it into various projects.” Such projects include work on the Kitsch Encyclopedia, a self-directed assignment for which Cwynar gathered all the content.

Paranoia Archive photograph produced for Butcher Gallery.

The collection of hodgepodge images—including vintage illustrations, and old photographs of people, animals, and appliances— allowed her to showcase her love of memorabilia and tsotchkes. The evolution of publishing has suited Cwynar’s taste for what is fragmentary and fleeting, and she cites the rise of blogs within the last decade as a major influence on her work. As a design student at Canada’s York University in Toronto, blogs allowed her to view projects and exhibitions around the world, and the constant influx of updates and work inspired her own progression as an artist. “We all had a much wider sense of the possibilities of design and photography than what was immediately around us, and I still find it really inspirational to look at the internet,” she explains.

Cwynar currently freelances for The New York Times Magazine, turning her lifelong obsession with magazines and publication into a career. And thanks to her boundless imagination—perhaps a result of her penchant for collecting—she has no intentions of limiting herself. When you know what you might do if you could do anything, it becomes a lot easier to take a brief and work with it.”

We all had a much wider sense of the possibilities of design and photography than what was immediately around us, and I still find it really inspirational to look at the internet.

Simulated landscapes, large format newsprint.

Click here for more about Sara.

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