Posts Tagged ‘Elise Engler’

Heard It First

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Counting, noting, and making lists of people, places, and things: Elise Engler makes art focused on documentation. She has drawn the contents of women’s purses, the prizes or our tax dollars, and every block on Broadway in Manhattan. After exhibiting her Broadway drawings at Robert Henry Contemporary, she has moved on to First Radio Headline Heard of the Day, her current series of postcard-size watercolors that document major news stories from around the world. 

In between her indexical drawings, Engler teaches Visual Narrative: Ways to Tell a Story here at SVACE. And on the occasion of her 100th entry for First Radio Headline, we asked her to open up about her process and ideas.

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First Radio Headline Heard of the Day by Elise Engler

SVACE: How exactly do you carry out your First Radio Headline Project? Do you wake up to news radio?

EE: I listen to WNYC(NPR) and sometimes BBC onNPR not at consistent time, but first thing when I wake up. I choose/edit so stories aren’t repeated. (Don’t want daily Trump.) I am traveling west later this month and will tune in to local NPR and CBC stations.

SVACE: Where do you turn for reference images?

EE: I troll the internet looking for videos from lots of news sources — all over world — and take  screen shots to combine images, so I am not stealing someone else’s work.

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First Radio Headline Heard of the Day by Elise Engler

SVACE: In this series, is there a place for working not from reference images, but instead from memory or imagination?

EE: I like to use references, then there is a great deal of choosing, altering and rearranging. There is not a great deal of memory or imaginative work in my art, although I just finished an accordion book response to a friend’s published poem, and it is all memory and imagination, and quite abstract at times. It was quite challenging.

SVACE: Many of us increasingly get our news from Facebook. And even when listening to news radio, we access it through streaming internet. By working from radio news, are you consciously representing an outmoded form of technology?

EE: I am combining my own longtime and probably old-fashioned radio obsession with Internet technology and social media. If I wasn’t an artist I would like to have been a radio journalist.

SVACE: Is there something unique about news radio, which we don’t find in other news sources?

EE: I like the range and seemingly arbitrary aspect because I don’t always tune in at same time –news is local, national, global.  Perhaps the viewer and I will, after 366 days (or in fact 406 days with 40 “test’ drawings”) have a sense of the year and also what is broadcast by this particular network. (Would be different of i was listening to Fox or Pacifica or CNN.)

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First Radio Headline Heard of the Day by Elise Engler

SVACE: In that sense, your project is a time capsule. In retrospect, would you have liked to cover any previous years, specifically? Like 2008: Obama’s election? 2001: the 9/11 fallout?

EE: This year is pretty rich. But the nature of my work is that I find interest in everything and everywhere. I drew the contents of the handbags of over 70 women, always interesting; I like the mundane and the dramatic, and intimate (the women’s bags) and enormous (Antarctica.) Any year would be fine; they all have their moments.

SVACE: Does your emotional response to the news affect your work? For example, do you struggle to depict very bad news?

EE: Definitely. I don’t want to be sensationalist. I hesitate to show murders and corpses but will if that’s crucial to the story.

SVACE: Why not just choose a story with less violence?

EE: FIRST radio headline — trying to be somewhat consistent.

First Radio Headline Heard of the Day by Elise Engler

First Radio Headline Heard of the Day by Elise Engler

SVACE: Your commitment to the project partially precludes choosing your subject matter. This could be a challenge by pulling you outside comfort zones. But it could also be a relief because it gives you a starting point.  How do you adapt to this?

EE: I’m enjoying the challenge of having to figure out how to do something quite different every day. It’s different than A Year on Broadway which had the landscape/cityscape format. I also like the research aspect.

SVACE: A Year on Broadway project had the landscape/cityscape continuity, but you were drawing from a different physical place each day – a different city block. And that is much more of a social space, with noise and interruptions, than your own home. Does First Radio Headline feel more hermetic? For you, what is the ideal setting for making art?

EE: I like the range and I have always worked both on site and in my studio. Sometimes being a “fly on the wall” gives the work greater insight and dimension. The Antarctic work was started on there, finished in my studio. My tax-dollar project TAX-ONOMIES was done in my studio (researching weaponry, drawing 30,000 Iraq War casualties), while drawings done on site include my fire station drawing (everything on a fire engine), NYC Health Lab, and equipment to maintain Riverside Park.

The social media aspect makes this project a bit less hermetic as it is posted daily and I sometimes get an immediate response. The Broadway project was also about confronting my fears having had a very serious bike accident, I did it in part to embrace and appreciate the pace of my new role as a walker and also as someone who had become very skittish on the street (that sort of worked, though not completely by any means.) People generally ignored me on the street when drawing Broadway and I am very good at zoning out. When I was young, I learned to draw in part on the street, drawing people in public places like Grand Central Station and the Staten Island Ferry.

Follow Elise Engler’s First Radio Headline Heard of the Day Drawing Project on Twitter and Instagram, or see the entire project at eliseengler.com.

Faculty Updates

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

What have SVACE faculty members been up to? We have exciting updates from Keith Mayerson, Elise Engler, Elizabeth Sayles, and Steve Brodner!

Studying Keith Mayerson's painting at Marlborough Chelsea

Studying a Keith Mayerson painting at Marlborough Chelsea

Keith Mayerson opened My American Dream, a solo show and retrospective at Marlborough Chelsea! Like a bride’s attire, the show combines “Something old, something new, something borrowed!” Keith’s new paintings mix with “vintage” work dating back to 1997 – including paintings borrowed back from private collections and museums! It’s a museum-level show for a museum-level artist.

 

Keith Mayerson, "My American Dream" at Marlborough Chelsea

Keith Mayerson, “My American Dream” at Marlborough Chelsea

Keith Mayerson and friends

Keith Mayerson and friends

Elise Engler opened A Year on Broadway at Robert Henry Contemporary in Bushwick! The show collects prints of drawings she made of every block of Broadway in Manhattan – as reported in The New Yorker!

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From "A Year on Broadway" by Elise Engler

From “A Year on Broadway” by Elise Engler

Elizabeth Sayles shares images and insights in a feature and interview at Kathleen Temean’s Writing and Illustrating blog! The interview is rich with images and candid discussion about Elizabeth’s work.

Illustrations by Elizabeth Sayles

Illustrations by Elizabeth Sayles

Finally, Steve Brodner will participate in POW! Mighty Art that Takes No Prisoners, a panel discussion about art and politics.  Details here.

Caricatures by Steve Brodner

Caricatures by Steve Brodner