In the Dark

Artist Statement

The In the Dark drawings depict a wide range of things that a person alone and awake in the middle of the night might do, including the many in-between moments that make up a life—staring in the fridge, sitting at a window, remembering a dream. The slick shiny sumi ink used for the background surrounds and singles out the contrasting figures rendered in thick matte-black watercolor crayon. Furniture, objects, and especially digital devices hover in their own glow. The sense of isolation and intimacy is pierced by the siren song of the digital universe, accessible with the tap of a finger and an inevitably nearby device.

We live in a world that strives to consume the entirety of our time and attention. Work, play, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle cry out for our attention at all hours of the day and night. Our ability to seek refuge in a place where all that can be ignored, turned off, and tuned out is vital to our very self-preservation. The In the Dark drawings are about our attempts to find that space.

My work explores the relationship between rules and play in everyday life. With the In the Dark series, I am using sumi ink and watercolor crayons to make images of people caught between the need to disconnect and recharge, and the urge to reach out for connection and escape via the addicting digital light.

Light can symbolize enlightenment, transcendence, and knowledge, but also the glare of the prison yard, “shift work sleep disorder,” or the continual operation of machines. Darkness stills the spectacle and obscures the merchandise, creating a place where one can take refuge, tuning out what is being advertised, to become aware of one’s inner life. Disrupting that stillness, bringing the glaring spotlight into the darkness, is the choice we struggle with.

Louisa Armbrust makes work about the gap between the rules and real life. Awards include Artist-in-Residence at Millay Colony for the Arts, Trestle Critical Feedback program, LMCC Swing Space, Vermont Studio Center, and Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center, New York. Her work has been shown at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, NY; Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ; Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI; and Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, among others. She received an MA in visual arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn.