Ellen Garvens: Parallel Play
Work seen at the Medium Festival of Photography
I am always interested in how an artist reorganizes their world in an artistic way and photographer Ellen Garvens brought an unusual, delicate, and personal still life project to the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego. For this project, Ellen used a room layered with familial history and humble objects that allowed her to create 3 dimensional drawings, using the photographic medium to flatten and crop the constructions. In January, Ellen opens a solo show, Fine Lines, at Russell Day Gallery at Everett Community College in Everett Washington which includes a range of works including 3D work from the last 10 years. Her work will also be exhibited in Women and Abstraction coming up this spring at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Art Museum in Winter Park, Florida. The show includes some luminaries of abstraction including Georgia O’keeffe, Lee Bontecou, Lee Krasner, Louise Nevelson and more.
Ellen is a professor at the University of Washington School of Art. She received a B.S. at the University of Wisconsin and a MFA from the University of New Mexico. She has received a Fulbright–Hayes Scholarship, National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowship Grant, and an Artist Trust /Washington State Fellowship. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally and featured in Each Wild Idea by Geoffrey Batchen, Contact Sheet #150 by Light Work, and the journals Creative Camera and Visual Studies.
Her work is a cross between photography, drawing and sculpture often blurring the boundaries between them. Also interested in documentary work, between 2003 and 2010 she made a series of photographs in prosthetic clinics in the U.S., Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The images were then used as a catalyst to hear and record stories and thoughts from the patients, prosthetists and researchers. Her work is represented by Prographica Fine Works on Paper, Seattle WA.
In this series I create sparse still lives with paper, simple objects and thread that play with gravity and illusion. They are drawings realized in three-dimensional space. Some images incorporate additional drawing or mark making done with the computer and some don’t.
The process keeps my eyes and my hands working together and questions the medium of photography. Is it material or immaterial? What is on the surface and what exists in space? Illusion is mixed with actuality but not always aligning the way you might expect.
On a personal note this series started when I moved my studio into a bedroom vacated by grown up kids. I was about to paint the dirty, pockmarked, overly push pinned and taped walls but instead I played off of them with a series of still lives. The aftermath of activity in this room for 18 years forms the backdrop and inspiration for this series.
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