How Elizabeth Alexander Reveals Hidden Layers in the Walls of Our Homes
Massachusetts artist Elizabeth Alexander makes a compelling statement about the fetishistic qualities of household detritus. Her mixed-media pieces, assembled from cast-off armchairs and discarded paint chips, have a seductive sense of nostalgia and decay. Blending elements of Jung’s collective unconscious with Christian Boltanski’s shrine-like installations, she focuses on the power of objects to evoke memories of past trauma.
Growing up in a working-class family in the Rust Belt sparked Elizabeth’s interest in probing the American Dream. Her found-object sculptures and installations explore elements of human behavior in an unfettered consumer society. By examining the triggering power of a piece of furniture, a discarded item of clothing, or a chipped porcelain mug, she uncovers the hidden emotional layers in the walls of our homes.
“Labored processes unearth the human presence within our material surroundings, and explore home as a place that is shaped by our stories,” Elizabeth explains. “Moments where those stories seep through the cracks are probed to reveal what might lay behind the façade. This work pulls at the threads of the home as a symbol, and envisions the realities of private space.”
Describing herself as a “neurodivergent thinker, rejuvenated by the embrace of narrative and decorative aesthetics,” Elizabeth’s work was recently selected for Paper Routes—Women to Watch 2020 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her work also appears in collections at Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas and the Mint Museum in North Carolina.
[My] work pulls at the threads of the home as a symbol, and envisions the realities of private space.” — Elizabeth Alexander
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
The Artist of the Day series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100s of grant applications we receive every year. The NOT REAL ART grant is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists. Find out more about our grant program here.