Paintings by Elise Ferguson
Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1964, Elise Ferguson is a painter, sculptor, and print maker. The daughter of a mother who designed women’s clothing and a stepfather who was an architect, she spent her early life in a home of modern design elements, surrounded by a growing art collection.
Ferguson initially began her formal art education at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She then received her BFA from The School of Art Institute in Chicago and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduation, Ferguson moved to New York, considered a mecca for the visual arts, to be surrounded by artists, similar-minded colleagues and galleries. She currently works out of a shared studio space with two other creative professionals a short distance from her Brooklyn home.
Inspired by architect Louis Kahn’s un-camouflaged use of cement in his designs, Elise Ferguson uses sculptural materials, including metal, pigmented plaster and ink on medium-density fiberboard, as a means of creating illusory space and preserving a series of compositional actions. While certain of her works allude to representational elements found in the studio or nature, Ferguson also creates pieces that are purely abstract with optical interactions of grid, lines and concentric circles.
Ferguson was a sculptor for twenty years before she focused on painting. Her “Retaining Wall”, a two-hundred foot length wall cast of urethane tiles reminiscent of a 1950s linoleum kitchen floor, was installed at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York in 2003. A similar sculpture entitled “Greenvine”, a patterned wall of green tiles executed in 2005, is installed at a private home in South Hampton, New York. Although she created distinctive sculptural works, Ferguson is best know for her textural paintings.
Incorporating her sculptural aptitude, Ferguson paints the majority of her work by using pigmented plaster on paper or panels. With the use of computer graphic programs, she draws her repeating and often undulating patterns, with purposefully placed imperfections and glitches. After they are drawn, Ferguson makes screen prints that she applies to the pigmented plaster. Although seemingly flawless, the imperfections seen on a closer look create a tension in the work between the geometric figure and the plaster build-up.
For her 2020 “Clamp” series, Elise Ferguson sought to translate her layering techniques used in her paintings to a handmade paper edition. These works of color and geometric patterns were accomplished by layering brightly colored linen pulps on cream or black cotton base paper sheets. Using her computer, Ferguson designed an undulating U-shaped wave of parallel lines which, once made into mylar stencils, made it possible to create thin, crisp lines on the base sheet. The resulting work, with its stenciled pulp lines, has a distinctive look, unique to the art of paper making.
Ferguson’s work has appeared in solo exhibitions at the Halsey McKay Gallery, the Romer Young Gallery and 57W57 Arts. Her group exhibitions have included the Albada Jelgersma Gallery in Amsterdam, Ikast Kunstpakhus in Denmark, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, and the Barton Art Galleries, among others.
Elise Ferguson has been recognized with several awards, including a Northern Trust Purchase Prize, an EAST International exhibition grant, the Dieu Donne Papermill Workspace Grant, and residencies at Barton College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, MacDowell Colony, and the Illinois State University. She is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco.
Elise Ferguson’s website is located at http://www.eliseferguson.org
Elise Ferguson, “Cloudbank”, 2018, Hand-Printed Block Print on Linen, 15 Feet in Length, Gallery Installation, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York,
Elise Ferguson, “Pile”, 2014, Pigmented Plaster on Panel, 60.1 x 60.1 cm, Private Collection