My current work examines the ways in which sites are marked, unmarked, and distinguished from surrounding areas. With a somewhat equal emphasis on both the planned meticulousness and the precarious jury-rigging of the construction process, the sculptures observe and absorb the tendencies of built architectural and utilitarian structures with the ultimate goal of creating a material, dichotomous space.

Building materials exist as relics of place and site. They become infused with meaning from the way we handle them, how we configure them, and the ways in which we interact with the structures after they have been assembled. Those materials witness, in a sense, the complete action timeline of a site. They hold the life of the site. I am interested in the shift that occurs when those materials are translated and rematerialized in a new context under new pretenses. In this translation, I aim to investigate what it means to mark a site with a structure and how the physicality of structure functions beyond what it marks.

Employing altered building processes and refabricated materials, my work fetishizes and dissects the intimacy of building labor and the ways in which it links to larger systems of power and authority. In these material shifts, the objects slow down and frustrate the building process, questioning how constructive labor functions within larger society.


Emily Swanberg is a Minneapolis, MN based sculptor whose work is influenced by the environments, materials, and processes inherent in architecture and systematic design. In 2016, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Bethel University. Her work has been included in various exhibitions, including the 2018 Masters Show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. Swanberg is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota.