San Diego Local: Emily Poole

Claire Reiner
Posted on June 30, 2016, 3:15 pm
8 mins

Emily Poole is a San Diego artist whose work causes you to question the space and materials around you. Everyday objects (and office supplies) become art through her eyes. She is also a vibrant, thoughtful and creative member of the community with two shows on display.

Emily Poole’s work plays with texture, material and medium. Her current pieces, created in preparation for a show at both maven and Coffee and Tea Collective, take on different themes and mediums, but exhibit all of Poole’s structural strengths.

Emily Poole's work at Maven. Image courtesy of Claire Reiner.

Emily Poole’s work at maven. Image courtesy of Claire Reiner.

Emily Poole graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2013 with a BA in Visual Art, with a focus on Sculpture. But Poole began as a business major, not pursuing sculpture until an internship at Urban Outfitters provided her with the opportunity to truly work with her hands. “I’ve always come back to sculpture. It’s like my comfort zone that also pushes me out of the box…That’s where I want to grow.” Much of Poole’s past work has centered on the usage of cork–an impermeable, buoyant material (so-says Wikipedia). The pieces she has created using this unique and under-utilized material are inspired and complex. Poole states, “It’s hard for me to remember anything before I started working with cork.” Her progression and discovery with the material is as natural as the medium itself.

“Our 3D design classes introduced us to a lot of different materials. At the beginning of my senior year, we were taken to UFO, which is a fabric store in National City. I started using these felts and rubbers—things that were stiff and held their shape. Not wood, but not as loose as fabric, something in between. I think I was at Dixieline (we were just encouraged to go to all these places to kind of figure out what kind of materials we liked), when I found cork. Because that ended up being my thesis, the majority of my Senior year I utilized cork.” Poole’s cork pieces take on organic shapes that progress and change in front of the viewer. There is a natural rhythm to these twisting masses, originally inspired by the quality of steam-bent wood.

As a sculptor, cork is almost the perfect tool for Poole. “Cork has the colors I like. I’m very attracted to neutrals..It has the different dimensions of colors that I love. The biggest thing for me was that it’s very malleable. I could bend it, put a nail in it and it would hold its shape very well. So I think thats how I got to twisting it in the way that I did. I learned so much just by spending time with the material—to push it as much as I could, but give it enough space to do what it needed to do. I didn’t want to push it until it broke.”

The work on display at maven (a local San Diego boutique previously covered in this series) is a beautiful collection of Poole’s cork pieces. The large piece above the cash wrap highlights Poole’s talents for large-scale installation work, while the little beauties are perfect to take home with you right away. Emily Poole also has her work on display at Coffee and Tea Collective, a coffee shop much celebrate for its art shows and presentations. Sweet Nothingswhich opened on June 17, pushes Poole’s work to new limits and takes her away from the comforts of cork.

“I was a little scared to step out of my comfort zone. I’d gotten really used to the cork and working with it. It was scary to start looking for new materials. But just recently, for the Coffee and Tea Collective show, I decided to explore different mediums…Its been encouraging to know I can use different materials and kind of feel the same way about them as I do about cork.”

Emily Poole's "Sweet Nothings" at Coffee and Tea Collective. Image courtesy of Emily Poole.

Emily Poole’s “Sweet Nothings” at Coffee and Tea Collective. Image courtesy of Emily Poole.

For Sweet Nothings, Poole turned her attention to open-cell foam found at a fabric store. The medium shares similar properties with the cork, but allows for different visual presentations. Similar to the cork, the foam is malleable, neutral and porous—and somewhat recognizable for the viewer. Poole states, “My work will always be material driven. I love to kind of surprise myself and surprise other people with what something really is.”

The pieces created for this exhibit of Poole’s work are textual and rely heavily on language. The simple word choices allow the viewer to pull his or her own meaning from them. The concept for the show, much like Poole’s work with the cork, came from her immediate reaction to the material. Poole explains that laser-cutting the word honey out of the foam came from her first response to seeing the honey-comb pattern. Each material Poole utilizes prompts its natural artistic outcome. Poole’s work for Sweet Nothings, like all of her work, is filled with so much beautiful texture and depth—you can’t help but look closer.

“I had a professor who said, ‘Make art about the things you do when you’re not making art.’ That has been in constant rotation in my mind—that lifestyle or philosophy—that art needs to be about the things that are close to you. I’m constantly thinking about the things that I’m doing when I’m not making art as a potential for a piece. It’s just been a mindset that has been so helpful to me.”

Poole’s ability to delve into materials and explore their potential is truly beautiful. The pieces created for both maven and Sweet Nothings are exceptional realizations of her strengths. For more information on Emily Poole and to see more of her work, visit her website.

Claire Reiner

Claire Reiner is a writer, artist and recent graduate from the University of Washington’s School of Art with a major in Art History. She is interested in recent art movements and subcultures (1950s, 60s, 70s) and how they have shaped present perceptions and practices of art. She grew up in Southern California and moved to Seattle in 2010. She is quite influenced by the unique geography of both places and enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. Reiner covers visual art exhibits in Seattle and seeks to contribute to a profound and positive artistic community, as well as encourage people to come out and experience art moments for themselves. Reiner is also the Executive Assistant for VanguardSeattle and handles any press related needs.