Artist Statement 2019
I am a painter, sketcher, teacher, and technical writer. My art focuses on experiences over time, starting with sketching everyday life, trips, people and places, and continuing through making paintings about all of it in my studio.
My recent work is based on an interest in how the built environment and nature interact, with a focus on certain places I’ve visited with geographic or built extremes: Iceland, Newfoundland, Portugal, the American West, and Singapore. I obsessively relive these trips as I redraw and paint these places, which become distorted by memory and time.
I’m interested in sketching to observe and record, to understand and know the world around me. Looking harder and seeing more and making a record of it creates a connection to a place or person or thing. I further explore these subjects by making paintings and narrative drawings based on sketches, which keeps me connected to the experiences and places.
Statement: Two Stories of Iceland, 2017/2018
Iceland is dramatic and magical, with mountains, lava fields, the original geyser, visible tectonic plates, and rivers that dramatically cut through the landscape and produce giant waterfalls that look like they drop into the abyss. Just looking at the rocks covered with moss, or the lupin flowers creating an intricate pattern, or the steam venting out of hot springs in the distance makes you feel like you are in a magical story. The people are lovely with a dry and dark sense of humor and a deep belief in spirits, which is fitting for a place where the landscape feels like a presence.
Two Stories of Iceland is a narrative exploration of stories of Iceland in small paintings and drawings. In one series, a true story about a young woman who disappeared plays out in small ink drawings that tell the story of the ensuing search, investigation, and the impact this event had on the community. Another series is of a trip I took to Iceland in 2015 with my best friend, who is Icelandic, and our families. As I tell the story of the trip in small paintings and drawings, I relive the trip obsessively.
Telling these stories through sketching and painting keeps me connected to the experience and to this place that now lives in my heart.
Elizabeth Alley was born in Memphis, TN, and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Memphis. In addition to making paintings and filling up sketchbooks, she teaches at Flicker Street Studio and organizes Memphis Urban Sketchers. Since 1999 she has organized and participated in over 30 solo and group shows.
Elizabeth is in her tenth year as a technical communicator, spent over 11 years in public art administration, two years in the roller derby, and served as president of Urban Sketchers, organizing five USk Symposiums. Other interests include reading, traveling, cooking, making lists, and staring out the window.