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 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 is a Chicago-based artist and educator. Her long term work in painting is in dialogue with other artists through a deep investigation of color theory and form. The content of her current work analyzes society's attitude towards the environment and questions the human relationship with nature.
Campbell completed her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA at the University of Chicago. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Art and at Purdue University Northwest. Her paintings have been featured in exhibitions at galleries and cultural centers in NYC and across the Midwest with solo shows most recently at Firecat Projects (2014) and Glow (2019) in Chicago. Campbell is also the recipient of numerous awards and honors including residencies at Yaddo, Ucross and Ragdale. She has been awarded grants including DCASE IAP (2016) and CAAP grants. Her work has been reviewed in several publications, such as the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Sun Times.
cv/resume available on request