Oil Rig, gelatin transfer print, Day 1 by Elyse Hochstadt
Oil Rig, gelatin transfer print, 4 Weeks Later by Elyse Hochstadt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re familiar with some of my earlier posts, you would know one of my art crushes is Elyse Hochstadt.

I’ve been following Ms. Hochstadt’s work and happy to report that she will be showing work at Root Division at the Manufactured Organic show! Much of her recent work focuses heavily on materiality and immateriality. The beauty lies in the fact that much of her work takes patience due to the material transforming and morphing into an artifact. If you are free on the Saturday, March 12 from 7-10 pm, please show your support.

Labour of Love Installation by Elyse Hochstadt, Eggshell halves on end 11’ x 9’ and wooden swing, Courtesy of the Artist

Eggshells.

Easily discarded but often associated with the idiom of not wanting to hurt one’s feelings (hence, walking on eggshells), Elyse Hochstadt’s Labour of Love installation of eggshells with a wooden swing hanging off to a corner of the piece provides the viewer with an identifiable reference – a carpet.  Yet, the thought of walking on this eggshell carpet makes actually walking on it an impossibility, which proves the point that most, if not all, colloquial phrases have a sense of absurdity. The cliché as art form proves to be a laborious task for the artist as well. According to Ms. Hochstadt, this piece must be assembled every time it is shown. The appeal, for me, has mostly to do with the process in that it is meditative in nature as well as a mental and physical exercise in creating order. Without seeing the assembled piece, I gather its similarity to Andy Golsdworthy due to the organic nature of the material and precise structure of laying each shell to create the perfect amount of tension for the entire piece to be held together. Its assembly and orientation differs every single time and no eggshell is ever put in the same exact place. In addition, to take such simple material and make a rather complex visual statement, there’s a sudden barrage of activity associated to the material that comes to mind. The act of cooking, cleaning, the notion of the home, of instability and the precarious nature of childhood with the swing. This imaginary being swinging atop eggshells must rely on a force other than their own body, perhaps, to gain momentum but with a resignation that something may break. As a viewer, you either want the setting to be serene and untouched or you want to run over the eggshells like a child running after birds on a sidewalk or through crispy fallen Autumn leaves.

There is something that stops you though. What exactly is it? Love has never been such a laborious or strenuous task to understand, which probably explains its intensity.

Portrait of George I by Elyse Hochstadt, Courtesy of the Artist

With the valiant effort of keeping with my “art diary” format and writing as much as possible in the new year (every day to be exact), I figured it would be nice to write about a Bay Area artist. I’m hoping to learn more about her work as well as her processes as the year progresses. There will be more, I can promise you that, dear reader. For now though, I’m just spinning my wheels and getting the juices flowing. So, let me begin today’s entry…

As an adult, I’m much more fascinated with fairy tales and their allegorical meanings than ever before. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with artist, Elyse Hochstadt, to discuss her art work. During our conversation, I was drawn to Portrait of George I instantly. Hochstadt mentioned her affinity to Grimm’s Fairy Tales as we talked about some sources from which she draws inspiration. Intrigued by her fascination, I couldn’t help but read through some of the various stories (i.e., The Wild Swans, The Juniper Tree, etc.) when I got home. Recalling my experience of seeing Portrait of George I, it was both a visual and physical representation of a fairy tale. Although a chair has a function and purpose in daily life, there is a repurposing of the ordinary into something extraordinary with this piece. It is enigmatic and magical. At first glance, there is a sense of wonder and fear as if the chair were to suddenly come alive to the touch. The illusion that what you are seeing in space must become something other than what it actually is, which is a well crafted piece of art work with carefully placed feathers using the chair as a base for the overall structure. However, the organic form offers no hard lines other than the wooden legs visible at the very bottom of the piece. It’s a mirage of sorts that welcomes your own interpretation and re-working of your mythologies.

This is just a mere introduction. More thoughts to come…