Ellen George's Nose Touches Twig at PDX Contemporary Art
Ellen George, Strawberry Fields Forever, 2009
I think George's vertical wall pieces are better than ever. Pieces like Strawberry Fields Forever and Sunspots demonstrate how a common vertical line can provide a powerful tool for organizing a large number of individual disparate elements. Each work is made of a nearly innumerable number of smaller units of polymer clay each with its own shape, size and color. Each unit is clearly visible and still makes a significant contribution to the whole. Everything is visible to the viewer in a clear and direct way and the work is experienced as both part and whole at the same time.
Ellen George, Sunspots (detail), 2009
The result is that there is no composition and there is no image even though the viewer is never in doubt of George's steady hand. Common geometry is a powerful way to order space and the work becomes like totems on the wall. Color and form are fused together and colors slowly fade and dissolve into one another as the viewer moves their eyes up and down the piece.
Ellen George, Sunspots, 2009
Like most of George's pieces, the new work is surprisingly complex. Not only are the vertical pieces made of individual elements but the entire work floats a few inches in front of the wall so that the experience of the wall becomes inseparable from the work. The result is that each vertical piece is able to define an enormous amount of wall space.
Ellen George, Scatter, 2009
The relationship to the wall is also explored in pieces like Scatter where holes are carved out of coral like pieces of large flat pieces of polymer clay. When we are looking at the work, we see the piece and the wall at the same time and they slowly begin to interpenetrate one another.
Ellen George's Nose Touches Twig at PDX Contemporary Art until May 30, 2010
After reading this, I'm sitting stringing my thoughts on a bright ribbon, layer after layer. Thank you for the beautiful images and thought provoking ideas.