The animate world —the non-technical, what is generally called nature, is receding from the constructed world. What remains are denatured, proliferating and commodified expressions of a largely abandoned place, ersatz images and products that pretend to the natural; the souvenirs of spoliation. Nature's stand-in is now the collective cultural detritus that surrounds us: floral and plant motifs that attempt to naturalize paper towels, placemats, plastic bags, etc. The ubiquitous daisy shaped bathtub sticker, meant to prevent falls, tries to con us that we still live in the garden. This paradox of the simultaneous existence of mountains of manufactured imitations alongside a diminished and probably dying biome has been an ongoing inspiration and central problem that I study in my art.
I use these manufactured, denatured renditions of the organic world to create new visual and psychological relationships, accommodating the malformed nostalgia of cheap goods to reanimate them in a fantastical state of nature. Through shifts and palette and an intimate close-up perspective I attempt to mirror the tension between the technological accelerations of modern existence and the wished-for endurance of the natural world.
I see the echoes of my childhood fascinations in this work my attraction to color and what I see as forth coming work delving into the more obviously built space.
Ellen Campbell’s paintings have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and cultural centers in Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Iowa and Chicago. Campbell is also the recipient of numerous awards and honors including Yaddo and Ucross Foundation artist residencies. In addition, her work is in many private and corporate collections. Ellen Campbell received her M.F.A. from the University of Chicago and her B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives, works and teaches in Chicago.
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