Studio Visit: Ellen R. Hanson

Ellen is an artist living and working in Chicago.  Her work can be seen in PLEAT's April 2017 exhibition as well as ellenrhanson.com. 

Please describe your work.
I paint post-romantic, abstracted landscapes and interiors. I’m interested in the tensions between inside/outside, personal/private, natural and artificial. As the title of this show reflects, plants become surrogates for human emotions in my paintings. They are the figures taking in their surroundings. 

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices? 
A lot of my imagery comes from what I see in Chicago. I live in a fascinating city sprawl that has an extremely rich architectural past. On the other hand, we’re right on Lake Michigan which is one of the largest fresh water bodies in the world. This combination of metropolitan and sublime fascinates me. Windows are another important motif for me.  They give us glimpses into lives that are happening right beside ours. The window, similarly to a painting, frames our viewpoint and removes us from what we are seeing. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
David Hockney has taught me about the importance of colors within shadows.  Kerry James Marshall has taught me about connecting the history of painting to contemporary culture.
Becky Suss has taught me how to use scale and repetition to represent objects and show their sentimental value.  I frequently look back at romantic landscape painters  (Turner, Friedrich, Bierstadt) for color and depictions of tumultuous sky and water. 

How has digital technology affected your artistic practice?
Instagram has been an important tool for sharing my work. It keeps people up to date with what I’m working on and lets them in on my studio practice. Through Instagram I’ve also been able to connect with other young artists and curators that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Studio Visit: Angela Heisch

Angela Heisch is an artist living and working in New York.  Her work can be seen in PLEAT's March 2017 exhibition as well as angelaheisch.com.

Please describe your work.
My work depicts a repetition of monolithic motifs and limited color palettes, presented in vague but associative surroundings. These oblong forms are assumed a sense of life and action through presenting themselves in different ways; whether it be a shift to the left, a tilt to the right, an ascendance or a confrontational stance. The surroundings of these oblong forms often appear disjointed, maybe broken pieces of a once whole, while still maintaining an image of importance and intentionality. I like to think of these images as moments that were walked in on, with a slight sense of threat, wonderment, and intrigue felt between both the viewer and the elements in the painting.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
The use of this simplified abstract language comes from my personal affliction with things when they're not fully explained to me. When I'm not sure where something came from, what it's doing, is it right side up, is it upside down, etc. These sensations are few and far in between in reality, but are often felt when you first glance at something, before it's named, categorized, or made sense of. I think a lot about inanimate objects looking back at the viewer, and at what point it becomes threatening or playful. My walk from the train to my studio is honestly very inspiring to me. There are so many great patterns, shapes, textures, doorways and colors. This is where a lot of the vague familiarity comes from in my work.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
My biggest influence as of late has been Roger Brown. If I'm feeling particularly uninspired, going back to his work is always such a great reminder of what's possible.  Ken Price's small landscape paintings and ceramic sculptures, Ray Yoshida's deliberate arrangements and textures.  I really love the ability of these artist's work to resonate as both playful and mysterious, especially Roger Browns paintings, they're almost cartoonish while depicting something that's approaching, looming in the distance with oookers waiting and pointing at its arrival.  

Other young artists in New York are really great to meet, just getting outside of your own practice and work is extremely valuable.

How has digital technology affected your artistic practice?
I don't use any other social media other than Instagram, but for the most part, I really love Instagram, I think it's a great way to meet artists, see an abundance of work.  I don't think it replaces seeing work in person, but I think it's a pretty awesome platform for artists, and a great way to be exposed to artists near and far.