"Elizabeth Alexander amazes us with her sundry array of simple materials that she then complicates and manipulates into completely different objects altogether. She seems to express the challenging thoughts and feelings that we have about being a woman in popular culture in a way that is at once both elegant and chaotic. The works are a mystery when seen from far away, just texture and color, drawing the viewer closer in to see what they are made of and how they are made. On the way, one will find symbols and references leading to a deeper inspection of the (female) human experience."
I am an interdisciplinary artist specializing in sculptures and installations made from deconstructed domestic materials. I hold degrees in sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy, MFA, and Massachusetts College of Art, BFA, where I discovered the complex nature of dissecting objects of nostalgia. My work has exhibited across the country at institutions including the Museum of Art and Design, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, the Nasher Museum at Duke University, the Currier Museum and is included in permanent collections at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR, Fidelity, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. I am represented by K Contemporary and an Artist Partner with Hodges Taylor. I am currently an Associate Professor and Sculpture Department Coordinator at Montserrat College of Art
I use cast paper and common household materials to unpack the social, cultural, and psychological implications of the American ideals of domesticity, success, and safety. This work can range from objects such as a disassembled teacup, to a photo series of altered environments, to site-specific installations with sound and performance. Contrary to the idyllic image of the unblemished American home, I work to bring forward the pervasive chaos that is embedded in our shared humanity through purposeful acts of deconstruction and renovation.
My interest in exploring American values and the idealism of home stem from a loving yet tumultuous working-class upbringing where our home was the center of our world. Raised to see the possibility in found or unwanted things I regard the domestic environment as an extension of human ingenuity; every curtain sewn by mom, steel furniture made by dad, a dollhouse made of old bookshelves. From a similar stock of thrifted items, the domestic becomes raw material, and I harness the symbolic weight these items carry.
Familiar glimpses of items such as an armchair can provide points of entry into invisible elements such as suppression or trauma. Keeping Up Appearances responded to the fleeting ideal image of home in the face of the Great Recession. Welder’s Daughter: The Waiting Room broached the collective grief in 2020 through an opulent tableau of a rust damask, paper tool husks, and decorated PPE. Now, all these years confronting illusions of safety within our familiar walls has brought me to consider the climate crisis in All Things Bright and Beautiful as part of my current series unofficially referred to as 'beautiful disasters.'
Repetitive processes serve as centering elements to record memories and observations through labor. The act of extracting every flower from a roll of wallpaper builds a familiarity with the patterned contents that informs a more intuitive construction of the parts. Whether it is the curling and draping of lace-like paper skins or clusters of harvested print adhered to a cast paper chair leg, wild forms unfurl from these ordinary domestic origins. Many weeks of meticulous attention often finishes in a precarious freeze frame as if you are viewing the work in transition.
Regarding home as a place that is shaped by our stories and bears witness to our secret lives, I use my own experience to explore ways we, in turn, are shaped by our homes and the activity within them. It is the place where hidden pressures, values, and power structures are taught, enacted, and reinforced. Where one’s security and safety can turn on a dime. I work to envision the humanity embedded within our surroundings, uncover the porousness of our walls, and question the sanctity of this material symbol with anxious wonder.
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