• Latest in Forever-- essay from the catalogue available by request

    Tubflowers & Other Unheralded Verdure-

    Flora is the cast of characters in Ellen Campbell’s paintings. Palette, mood and gesture vary from canvas to canvas. Unique titles put viewers on a path toward notably different, though inevitably enigmatic narratives. Campbell’s anonymous flowers, with their symmetrical petals radiating from a round pistil, are the only constant. Flowers are easily employed as symbols, standing in for an endless variety of notions. In art history, flowers as subject matter appear in famous examples too numerous to count --Islamic motifs, Golden Age still lifes, in the oeuvres of Monet, O’Keeffe, Warhol. They can be and often are tropes: a structure upon which to exercise one’s aesthetical intentions.

    So, why would an artist still choose to make a painting of a flower, given the proliferous iterations so ingrained in our art schooled minds? How does one take such an exhausted piece of visual vocabulary and make it one’s own? For Ellen Campbell, flowers are all of the historical and metaphorical associations, and more. They are a something to paint, they are something to paint about, and they mean something to be the thing that an artist paints. Flowers are her content, her trope and the link amongst her and the painters of art history.

    In Big Red T, gleaming, fuchsia flowers top a viciously spiked stem, growing from a crimson, scorched landscape. In this violent environ, the darkened sky hangs low, and the sketchy, transparent remains of flower petals in the distance are fading into the fiery ground. Here, Campbell has rendered beauty transformed into something ferocious, as if this delicate piece of nature has just evolved, outfitted now with ugly lances with which it can defend itself, survive and dominate. In Red Gray Flower, this same bunch of vegetation is now an unnerving, surrealist scene, with leaves and buds rendered like amorphous organs. The subject of Teal Velvet Sky is pared down to a hazy, flattened abstraction of neutrals, the figure and ground merged into almost one in the same. Throughout her oeuvre, Campbell never simply depicts the flowers as they are; they’re stressed, sharpened, anomalous and obliterated, begging the question: do we take for granted that nature will always be beautiful? What does it take for us to truly take notice of a flower?

    The artist’s Tubflower series, too, challenges the viewer to reconsider the role that florals play in our daily lives; however here, Campbell does so not by showing us a hypothetical, but by re-representing that which is so constant in our visual vocabulary that it’s practically invisible. Taking their titles from the non-slip stickers made for the bottom of the bathtub, the Tubflower paintings feature a stylized, six-petal form repeated, and layered upon itself. Like the patterns on paper towels, shampoo bottles, wallpaper and fabrics, the Tubflowers are no true depiction of nature. Motifs like these are far removed from their original sources, though surrounding ourselves with these formalized florals is evidence of our longing for a connection to the natural world, the further we divorce ourselves from the real thing.

    Robin Dluzen 2016

  • selected upcoming, current and recent-

    La Lusca, Lee Dulgar Gallery
    South Suburban Collage
    South Holland, IL
    present- 10/17/2018

    The Art Center-Highland Park
    1957 Sheridan Road
    Highland Park, IL 60035

    Just the fax!
    Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery
    Lockport Il
    May 2018

    Lee E. Dulgar Gallery
    South Suburban College, South Holland, IL
    October 2018

    Carroll Art District 2016 Open Studios Event
    Chicago IL
    November 12 + 13, 2016

    Expanding Borders - 2nd Biennial Regional Art Exhibition
    Brandenburg Art Gallery, Olivet Nazarene University
    Juror: Joanne Aono, artist and co-director at Cultivator - Chicago exhibitions and farm projects
    Bourbonnais, IL
    October 5-November 4, 2016

    South Shore Arts 73rd Annual Salon Show
    Juror: Carrie Johnson, Curator, Rockford Art Museum
    Munster, IN
    September 11-October 23, 2016

    Department of Cultural Affairs Grant
    Chicago, IL 2016

    Corporation of Yaddo Residency
    Saratoga Springs , NY 2016

    The People's Show
    Illinois State Museum Lockport, IL
    July 31 - October ?, 2015

    Ucross Foundation Residency
    Lois Nellie Gill Award, Clearmont, WY

    Latest in Forever
    solo show at Firecat Projects
    Chicago, IL

    One Enchanted Evening
    Benefit Juried Auction for Inspiration Corporation

    Cut Ups: Mary Lou Zelazny, Johannah Silva, Neva Sills, Ellen Campbell
    Peter Paul Luce Gallery, Cornell College,
    Mount Vernon, IA

    MDW Art Fair with portage ARTspace,
    Chicago, IL

    portage ARTspace
    Chicago, IL

    Beverly Shores Art Museum and Depot
    Beverly Shores, Indiana

    Ragdale Foundation Residency
    Lake Forest, IL