Kenyon College
 

Elizabeth Bailey

[+]

I am for an art that you can hammer with, stitch with, sew with, paste with, file with.

I am for an art that tells you the time of day or where such and such a street is.

Claes Oldenburg excerpt from 1961 manifesto, “I am for an Art”

Growing up on a grain farm and having an early affinity for maps sparked my interest in how one sees and understands a place. Knowing a farm at furrow level, knowing the windy hills and perpetually soggy valleys, the feel of the dirt under your boots and in your hands, is very different from knowing a place from a map or satellite image; however, these need not be divergent experiences. My work draws on both sources of knowledge of agricultural landscapes for a perspective that is at once formal and intimate.

Using found agricultural objects I create two-dimensional textile pieces that interpret satellite images of rural areas. The assemblages explore identity through material with objects gathered from my family farm in northeastern Ohio and from a farm near Gambier. Farming and sewing are extremely tactile experiences. I have sewn since I was a child and revel in the varied sound and feel of the machine moving over different fabrics. Some landscapes I respond to are places where I have walked and worked, while others I have never seen in person. Familiar and unvisited locations are treated differently; for instance my home, Columbia Station, was created entirely from memory, while the far-flung farms reference satellite images. For both kinds of locations I have used media from the familiar, emphasizing that my understanding of distant agricultural landscapes is shaped by my personal experiences.

Humans order the landscapes they farm, but nature still holds sway. Land may be divided into an unfaltering grid, but rivers can have powerful influence, creating beautifully irregular fields within perfect squares. The relationship here between imagery and materials creates a visual tension. Map-like representations create an accurate, yet distant view of the land, while the materials speak to a far more intimate knowledge.

   

 
COMMENTS
Margaret Tcheng Ware

Hello Elizabeth,
I am the mother of Jenny Ware, a freshman at Kenyon. This past week (Thursday through Saturday) I was on campus and saw the Senior Art Exhibition at Gund Gallery.
Your pieces caught my eye. I found your artist’s statement both poetic and truly helpful in understanding “where you are coming from” creatively.
I cannot get your work out of my mind. In particular, I was very taken by the first one that is on the wall on the left as one enters the exhibit. It has “Emmons County” in the title. Would you be willing to sell the piece and if so, what would you want for it?
My husband did not have a chance to see the exhibit. If you are willing to sell the work, would it be possible for you to send an image of it so he can take a look at it as well?
Congraulations on a lovely body of work and best wishes upon your graduation!
Sincerely,
Margaret

6 years ago
Pamela Burson

Beautifully creative work! Especially liked how you took everyday farm pieces – feed sack, bale twine, overhauls, etc. and incorporated/fashioned them into artistic pieces. I was especially pleased to see your appreciation for the farm land and how that was displayed in the imagery and materials. Thank you for causing us to pause and reflect on the strength/benefits of nurturing the land.

6 years ago
 
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