Elise P. Church | Say, sea,
November 1 - November 25
“Part Three: Love XI” Emily Dickinson
My river runs to thee:
Blue sea, wilt welcome me?
My river waits reply.
Oh sea, look graciously!
I’ll fetch thee brooks From spotted nooks,—
Say, sea, Take me!
Church’s art can be viewed as a personal reconstruction. During her formative years, the artist lived a transient life. Shuttling back and forth between homes in coastal Massachusetts and the island of Bermuda, her childhood keepsakes were eventually lost. This led to an effort to collect memorabilia. She now repurposes the discarded memories into art, preserving what is tangible and forgotten.
Her most recent work is a reminiscence of time spent by the water with her family. Wherever she was, the sea was the constant. Repetitive and reflective patterns of waves are prominent in both the photo- collages and the shaped paintings on paper. Emily Dickinson’s poem “Part Three: Love XI,” from which this exhibition takes its title, embodies these new works. Water, like home, beckoning and welcoming are for Church a symbol of comfort and serenity.
Each work starts with a photograph. Drawn to the pastel colors and the dated backdrops of the sixties and seventies, the artist acquires “lots” of color snapshots on eBay, like the very ones missing from her albums. Church uses the prints as source material. She excises the focal image shedding specific memories of others and transforming them into intimate abstract photo-collages and large paintings. The irregularly edged acrylic paintings awash with drips and brush marks contrast the square, glossy nature of the photograph. Gaps, holes, and missing figures are a near constant feature of the artist’s work. Like her own past, they signify relationships and moments that can no longer be retrieved. Formally the negative voids are as relevant as what remains.
Church’s work creates an ambiguous contrast between narrative and abstraction, image and object, nostalgic past and today. As stated earlier, these works are reconstructions, but they also serve as corrections to Church’s own past.
Elise P. Church was born in Boston, MA in 1965. She has received degrees from Skidmore College and New York City College of Technology. She has also attended Parsons School of Design in Paris, France, as well as Lacoste School of Arts in Lacoste, France. She has shown her work internationally in solo and group exhibitions. Some of venues to show Church’s work recently include the Catskill Art Society and Gallery Molly Krom. She also has been selected for multiple residencies, including the Cooper Union Summer Residency in New York, NY, and Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. Church currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.