Tonya Sweet

Disaster Manual (detail) – 2017, Tokyo, Japan
Mixed media on panel,  1310 x 300mm (6 panels total, each measuring 210 x 300mm)

Tonya Sweet is an artist-designer and established design educator with expertise in conceptually oriented art and design. Currently residing in New Zealand, Tonya was granted a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States. Fluent across mediums and scales, Tonya’s work transverses sculpture, furniture, speculative objects, architectural intervention, painting and collage. With international exhibitions in New Zealand, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, and artist residencies in Japan, her work reflects diverse experiences and an aptitude for critical and creative investigation.

 

Shared Lines: Kaikōura 2019

Deconstruct (2018) mixed media collage - 300mmx840mm

​Tonya’s research and creative work challenges and interrogates the negative emotional and psychological impacts of traumatic events. The work displayed in this exhibition, “Deconstruct”, is part of a larger body of work entitled ‘Design for Disaster’ whereby Tonya investigates trauma within the context of earthquakes. This subject is explored through the context of speculative and conceptually-derived objects and collages that employ empathy, humour, and play in the broad exploration of trauma-related anxieties and the desire for psychological resilience.

 

Shared Lines: Wellington 2017

Tectonic Probes: Tremors from the Pacific Ring  (Co-produced with Ben Jack and Morgan Barnard) – 2017, Wellington
Powder-coated steel, wood, & digital components, 145 x 380 x 120mm

Earthquake Bench (Co-produced with Kevin Sweet) – 2016, Wellington.
Wood & stainless steel, 2000 x 700 x 390mm

Tonya’s research and creative work challenges common preconceptions regarding the role of objects in mitigating the negative emotional and psychological impacts of traumatic events. This is explored through the context of speculative and conceptually-derived objects that employ empathy, humour, play, and characteristics of emotional durability in the aim to foster psychological resilience. The outcomes resulting from this pursuit are intended to facilitate critical dialogue regarding alternative functions of objects and their potential as positive agents of change.