Carol Sogard was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is a designer, educator, and community-engaged artist, that is committed to a multi-faceted artistic practice. Although these areas of creative research are distinct in output, they purposefully overlap them under the theme of sustainability. Her work sheds light on the environmental impacts of plastic waste, habitat destruction, industrial pollution, and climate change.
She works with a variety of mediums, including reclaimed plastic bags, found materials, in addition to digitally printed adhesive papers and fabric. She integrates analog and digital collage processes, weaving, and sewing into the creation of works that are rich and complex in layered details. The design artifacts that she creates instill reflection and inspire viewers and users to contemplate their relationship with the natural world and consider how human behavior dramatically impacts it.
Sogard’s design work and textile artifacts have been honored and published by the AIGA, How Books, Print Magazine, Rockport Publishers, Utah Division of Arts & Museums, and exhibited in galleries nationwide. She earned her MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Utah. Since 1999, she has served as Professor of Graphic Design and Graphic Design Program Chair at the University of Utah in the Department of Art and Art History.
Since 2006 I have been engaged in creative research on plastics in the environment. We as consumers, express our place in the world through the acquisition of goods for ourselves. Among the detrimental by-products of these purchases, I have focused on the single-use plastic bag. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags are consumed in the U.S. each year. Even with a dedicated effort to recycle, the alarmingly high rate of consumption far surpasses the benefits of recycling. Plastics represent the eternal artifacts of our modern world. It will never biodegrade and survive for centuries in landfills. It breaks up into tiny little pieces that contaminate soil, pollute oceans and endanger species. Through the process of collecting reclaimed plastic bags and manipulating them through heat fusing, sewing, and weaving; this work explores the use of plastic as a long term functionally designed art object rather than simply a by-product of our daily habit of consumption. In doing so, I challenge the viewer to question the original intent and necessity of single-use disposable plastics.
Over the last two years, I have also been examining the delicate balance of species within our environment. Habitat destruction, extreme weather patterns, industrial chemical pollution and human impact on the earth have dramatically impacted our species ability to survive. Our earth is a delicate system of checks and balances. When one part of the system fails, the entire ecosystem is compromised. Keystone species define the health and survival of these biomes. When a keystone species is removed from a habitat, all other species are affected and may risk extinction. Inspired by the decorative nature of wallpaper, I have begun a series called “Wallpapers for a Dying Planet”. Historically, wallpapers were designed to capture our natural world through the patterning of nature’s elements.
This wallpaper series is a modern-day reflection of our planet. Through the creation of this work, I draw attention to the threats that humans pose to specific keystone species and their natural habitats. My intent is to create awareness of wildlife under threat of extinction. These works are created through researching 19th-century biodiversity literature, sourcing this imagery and digitally composing with symbolic negative motifs that represent threats to natural environments. From a broad view, the patterns feel aesthetically pleasing. Yet, on closer look, it is a disturbing representation of our natural world as it has evolved in the Anthropocene – a time during which human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
In both series of works, decontextualized materials and images are harmoniously woven into a new context and environment in which they were unintended to belong but naturally fit within. The reveal of the message is subtle and embedded within the experience of interacting with it.