September 26, 2020

BY WESLEY BUTLER

Are we free? Or are we trapped? That is the question Sarah Farndon struggles to answer. For her, the relationship between city dwellers and the human-made environment is weak and contradictory.

In her new exhibition, Prison and Plinth, she explores this relationship by creating figurative sculptures that represent the threats of imprisonment and immobilization, while still offering some opportunities for freedom of self-expression.

“The environment surrounding us, mainly our cultures, is a very beautiful thing, but sometimes we have to question our freedom in it,” Farndon said. “Through my sculptures, I try to explore this phenomenon as best I can, hoping for some kind of answer. Are we forced to just go with the flow of contemporary culture? Or will we have some kind of control in how we express ourselves?”

Prison in Plinth is part of Farndon’s “doll series,” which combines elderly people with young people, displaying how cultures conflict with one another. The name of the show refers to her doll series in a literal sense, as her highly detailed fictional portrait busts are cemented right into their concrete plinths.

Farndon believes the same culture that seems to elevate us will inevitably trap us. As the consumer-driven contemporary culture takes over our lives, we’ll only see limited opportunities to freely express ourselves. That’s why she intends her work to pose questions rather than answer them.

“I want people to walk by my exhibits and wonder if the plinths are symbols of the city life and cultures people are imprisoned by or if they’re props used to display the creative self-expression of the characters,” she said. “I do this by combining the old and the young in my work.”

Farndon’s husband, Jerry Choi, a computer science major, has been impressed with his wife’s work since she started it.

“Her work is fabulous and unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he said. “She tries to express a message that makes you think while you gaze at the work.”

Farndon was born in 1987 in Toronto. She received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Ontario College of Art and Design and has had her work exhibited in the U.S. and Canada since 2007. Prison in Plinth stems from Farndon’s thesis project in her final year of college and experiments with the traditional form of the bust. It can be viewed at the Preston Library in Cambridge until May 12.

For more information about Sarah Farndon and her work, visit her website at www.sarahfarndon.com.