Emily Ward Bivens was born and raised in southern Louisiana. Her childhood bedroom was set apart from her family on the far side of an old house under which a large colony of armadillos would root and cavort all night. She studied biology later changing her major to art when she realized that there were limits to what science can explain. She has had exhibitions and performances of her individual and collaborative works in festivals, museums, galleries and washaterias.
Bivens creates installations where the inanimate becomes animate through stop-motion animation of dead animals, taxidermy, and video and sound projection embedded in and on objects. Domestic objects, such as bed frames and antique tube radio cabinets, are made, found and manipulated to hold new narratives. The contexts and orientations of the recognized objects are skewed to disrupt the familiar. A chandelier holds surveillance cameras rather than bulbs, shifting the meaning of illumination. The foot of a bed frame is suspended five feet high on the wall with a video projection of feet that eerily disappear into the wall. A video of a woman repeatedly trying to pet a stop-motion animated hawk as it nips at her mink stole is projected down onto a truncated bed that disappears into the wall. Live-feed video and delayed image and sound recorded in the exhibition space are embedded into objects to reintroduce the human and more specifically the audience to these once relevant utilitarian objects. These projected images and relayed sounds function as ghosts of a human presence while the audience becomes complicit in the completion of the works. The audience’s bodies and voices are implicated in a perpetual making and unmaking of a temporal performance between object, voice and image.
Bivens is the recipient of the 2019 Ann and Steve Bailey Opportunity Grant and 2019 Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. Individual work has been shown at Skulpturens Hus, Stockholm, Sweden, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO, Temple Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA and DEMO project in Springfield, IL. Her collaborative work with The Bridge Club has been presented at Press Street for Prospect 3+, New Orleans, LA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA, The Texas Biennial, San Antonio, TX, Currents: The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, Santa Fe, NM and the Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX. Bivens received her BFA from Colorado State University and her MFA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is an Associate Professor of 4D and Time-Based Art at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.