Artist Statement

I am an assemblage sculptor. I am a maker of sight poems. My gathered objects, lexicons of symbolic imagery, together in surreal juxtapositions inform my work on a visceral level.

Recent DNA testing and research have proven what for years has been considered familial myth. I am from Ashkenazic, Northern European and Native American descent.

This journey toward verifying my heritage has taken many years. It has led me to a deeper understanding of "how" I am. My individuality is determined by the coming together of a variety of factors. I exist in a culture that has impacted who I am through cultivating my beliefs and encouraging social adaptation. My ancestral roots give definition to my being on an intuitive level; inhabiting the deepest parts of my cellular memory. The combination of the two bolstered by my spiritual faith are the foundations of my identity.

Knowing I am not reliant solely on my DNA, my culture or my faith to define me, and that we are all sojourners made up of complex layered identities; I am encouraged to engage in communities distinct from my own.

"Amalgams: Heritage Anthology" is a series of sculptures functioning as visual metaphors representing attributes not recognized or expressed through a single graphic image. These figurative sight poems were inspired by the mysterious union between the cultural/environmental, ancestral and faith influences that comprise my "self."

I have chosen to appropriate esoteric stories, myths and legends from cultures specific to the geographical origins of my ancestral DNA. Each of the stories I have chosen, have notable characters. Some are heroic, others are not, but they all deal with their choices. Many are resourceful regardless of their intentions. Some are fierce protagonists who misuse their power and fall subject to their flaws. Others are reticent to use their strength even in the face of death. In the end, I have reflected on each of these characters. I have mused over their legacy, contemplated the moral of their stories. How have these legends contributed to the backbone of their cultural origins? What is it my ancestors would have me learn from these stories?

Elements and design patterns used in these works are modeled after wildlife I have observed while living in Oklahoma; symbols of my environment. The design for these works is attributed to regional flora and fauna. In keeping with my signature work, however, I have chosen to use found objects for fabrication. I view found materials as elements of salvaged history, accidental culture. Creating with found materials, for me, represents the process of redemption; ultimately imbuing my work with a key element of my faith.

- Sunni Mercer


Click the photos below to explore.

The Stories Sculptures

The Bestiary Sculptures

In Light of COVID Series