"My work has been described as 'some otherworldly mash-up of quilts and paintings and sculpture and something else altogether' - that 'something else' is what interests me, whether I’m working on paper, with felt, or foil."
My practice has developed through experimentation with a variety of processes and materials. I approach each work as abstract collage, with a layering of elements that cohere into unique, mosaic-like compositions. Each piece develops formally through the manipulation and interaction of materials – collage, drawing, painting, shaping, stiffening, burning, stitching – and the element of chance.
While my inspirations are wide-ranging – from fashion to nature, and even outer space – the primary driver of my work is my engagement with the materials themselves. I am also a landscape architect, and my work inevitably creates a form of landscape or topography. I’m interested in the transition from one element to another, the common edges that, like topographic contours, are themselves a kind of drawing.
My recent work plays with illusory space through two-dimensional collage and mixed media drawing on paper. This has led me back to the origins of my art practice in textiles through combining mixed media with woven paper. The earliest of these woven paper collages are patterned like a textile. My most recent work explores form and space, leaving the rectangle behind. I begin with a single gesture and a preliminary color palette, and the work develops from there. My process disrupts the systematic grid of woven structure and plays with chance to create an unpredicted painting. Or an illusory sculpture?
To quote Adam Gopnik from a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine: "What makes good games matter is the commitment of their players to the rules as a springboard of invention.”
I am a self-taught artist and first exhibited weavings in museums and galleries as part of the nascent fiber arts movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. Following careers in the not-for-profit sector and landscape architecture, I focus on my art practice full time from my studio in New York’s Hudson Valley.
-- Ellen Jouret-Epstein
“Material is a means of communication.”
Ellen Jouret-Epstein is based in Germantown, New York, in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Studio visits may be arranged by appointment.