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Emilia Sunderland

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Artist Statement

My work explores the work of the ‘other,’ the

non-protagonist who is separated from society due to minority status. I intend to disrupt the traditional ways some think about those of the LGBT community or those with disabilities—the bullying and isolation that I dealt with for being a lesbian. My greatest comfort during that time was the story of the harpies, who were outcast from society in the Argonautica and Aeneid, and how they survived against the odds. By taking an ancient form of storytelling with Greek mythology, I aim to prove us all as worthy in society’s eyes by portraying our people as the protagonists, the heroes of their own stories through illustration.


Born in 1998, Emilia Sunderland grew up in the Bay Area, California. She noticed from an early age that there was a juxtaposition in the wide diversity of some neighborhoods verses the highly conservative nature of the suburban homes—an ‘us versus them’ narrative. 


In the sixth grade, she was introduced to Greek mythology via a history teacher, and began to draw her favorite stories. Emilia later was forced to come out as lesbian due to gossip at the highly conservative high school she attended, this experience served as a catalyst for her art; she began to create illustrations idolizing the female villains of mythology and portraying the story through their perspective.


In 2020, Emilia graduated Seattle Pacific University with a degree in General Art with an illustration emphasis and Special Education. She enjoys working with at-risk and disadvantaged youth by using art and images to help their academic and social life while also working on a graphic novel about the ancient harpies.

meet theartis

Meet the Artist

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