Have you had the chance to see the "2014 Fellows Show" at the Academy?  If not, RUN don't walk to Wilkinson Gallery, 111 Franklin Street, before it closes on Sunday, September 29th.  At the show you will be drawn to Elizabeth Glaessner's (MFA 2013, Fellow 2014) work. Her post-apocalyptic paintings slowly reveal intricate allegories suspended in time.  Her chromatically vivid, psychologically dense, personal narratives take the viewer on a journey through the artist’s interior life.  Both intensely strategic and wildly intuitive, each detail of her work has a jewel-like quality that is the result of the artist’s extreme focus.  And yet, when taken as a whole, the improvisational nature of the work links every component into a rapturous symphony of exotic symbols and voluptuous color.

For Elizabeth, the Fellows Show came at the right time - fresh on heels of her debut solo exhibition at PPOW Gallery in August, a show that started a trajectory that we're excited to follow.  For the last installment of the Fellow Interview Series, we caught up with Elizabeth Glaessner whose quiet confidence shines through in her work and presence.  

Q: What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
A: Ritual, absurdity, meaning, invented mythology, shifting landscape, horror

Q: Where did you grow up? 

A: I grew up in Houston, Texas and my mom taught classes to kids at the Glassell school of art so seeing and making art was a big part of my childhood. We spent a lot of time at the Menil and the MFAH and I joined the teen council at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston when I was in high school. There, I had the opportunity to visit artists’ studios whom I still greatly admire (especially Trenton Doyle Hancock). I also spent a lot of time outdoors - digging in the bayous, fishing in Galveston, hiking in West Texas and the Rockies. The vast, open (often toxic) landscape definitely still appears in my work.

Q: What inspires you?
A: Things I see everyday - often the most banal objects seem to have the most potential to be transformed into something totally ecstatic.

Q: Tell us about your practice, do you start with a picture, idea or story in mind? 

A: I start with a feeling or a mood and then I try to conjure imagery for that and channel that feeling the entire time I’m making the piece. I first learned this from taking Inka Essenhigh’s monotype master class and it completely resonated with me and inspired me to adjust my own way of working. Everyone should take her painting from imagination class!

Q: If you could retake any class at the academy what would it be and why?
A: All of the master classes I took - Julie Heffernan, Natalie Frank, Inka Essenhigh - those were all incredibly influential and encouraging for me. Also, Wade’s animal class (but with a mask to eliminate the smell), Jacobsmeyer’s comp and design, Catherine Howe’s alchemical painting, Margaret Bowland, Monica Cook, any class where Kurt Kauper lectures.

Q: What materials do you like to use and how do you know when your work is finished 
A: I use inks and water dispersed pigments mixed with different binders in order to create a saturated world, sometimes allowing the medium to dictate the narrative. I really started using the materials I use now during my residency in Leipzig during the summer between my 1st and 2nd year.  I know it's finished when I don’t want to go back to the studio the next day and destroy it.

Q: During your post-graduate year, what did you learn most about yourself and practice?
A: I learned to trust my instincts more and the importance of community and conversation.

Q: What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
A: Be idealistic and read the news.

Q: What 3 quirky things can we find in your studio?
A: My stuffed chipmunk, Chester, plaster chicken feet and a studio mate.

Q: Do you paint to music or paint in silence?
A: both, today I was listening to Nancy Sinatra and La Luz but I switch it up often.

Q: If you weren't an artist what would you be?
A: A little more bitter.  

Q: Pick a piece and tell me about it
A: “Those that Prefer to Stay in Trees” This 4 by 6 foot work on panel depicts a creature half born out of a tree bearing mutations which are indicative of what we might call a toxic environment, however in this world these mutations are celebrated and the toxic landscape becomes a place where new creatures and mutants thrive. This particular creature is enamored with the Lady of Ephesus (the Ionian fertility goddess) adapting her accessory breasts and presenting herself as a source of nourishment and birth. She has a commanding presence and watches outward with an ominous eye.

Q: Finally, what's next? Any immediate plans to share?
A: I'll be working in my studio in Greenpoint, continuing to work with all the incredible people at P.P.O.W. and teaching once a week at Montclair University. I also look forward being a part of another critical and inspiring community!

To see more work from Elizabeth Glassner please visit her website.  Currently, her work is featured in the "2014 Fellows" exhibition, a three-person show that also features 2014 Fellows Nicolas V. Sanchez and Yunsung Jang.

Annually, the Academy awards Post-graduate fellowships to three exemplary graduating students chosen through a highly competitive selection process. During their Fellowship year, the Fellows receive studio accommodations, a stipend, exhibition opportunities and teaching assistantships to expand the depth and breadth of their artistic practice. The "2014 Fellows" show represents the culmination of their Fellowship year and entree into the art world as professional artists.

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