I paint and draw using floral images I find printed on manufactured consumer products like paper towels, plastic bags, and the non-slip stickers found on bathtub and shower floors across the world – the detritus of our culture. I incorporate these botanical decorative motifs into compositions that reflect nature but are not drawn from nature directly. Rather, my images are inspired more directly from the modern human constructed world. My compositions are also heavily influenced by my interest in the history of landscape and botanical painting and illustration.
My work addresses what I see as a central paradox of our contemporary condition: many of the images we consciously and subliminally surround ourselves with are somehow derived from the natural world, however, societal demands pull our focus elsewhere. We have become increasingly distant, detached, and often oblivious to the wild places and things we seem to have once valued so deeply.
I believe there is inspiration to be found in our collective response to this conundrum of separation from nature and attraction to its forms. Through my work, I attempt to address this tension between the technological accelerations of modern existence and the wished for endurance of the natural world. In the end, I use these images to animate a fantastical state of what I assert is a personal and collective longing for another way to be and to explore my own version of the world.
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.
cv/resume available on request