Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elisa D'Arrigo: Accretion

Recollection ... terracotta (1)
cloth, acrylic paint, thread
20 x 19 x 4 inches

I have a long-held interest in artwork that has in some way been inspired or influenced by textiles. I am also interested in artwork in which an artist utilizes textile materials but the material is not the primary identifier or focus of the work. Work of this type might be made from textile materials but the art in it's final form is not identified specifically as textiles. I believe the work of Elisa D'Arrigo is a beautiful example of the last described type of work.

I discovered Elisa's work through a friend and when I visited her website I knew immediately that I wanted to share her work with my readers.

Elisa uses the word "accretion" to describe her process. The dictionary meaning of accretion is: the process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter.

Does that description touch you? Those of you who work with textile materials know this process well. There are many processes in the textile world and almost all of them involve the accumulation of pieces of fabric, threads and stitches or layers. What a wonderful point of departure.

I find this body of work to be very powerful. For me, it's strength comes from the obvious clarity of vision and perfect combination of simplicity and complexity. Simplicity in that it utilizes hand processes and complex in its structure and concept. I hope you enjoy this artist's work.

La Carta (11)
handmade paper, thread, acrylic paint, marble dust
9 x 7 inches


Terry: In your artist statement you say, "Memories are only points of departure. The process of making the work ultimately determines each piece. My objective is to stay in the moment, mindful of accident and chance, responding to what unfolds."
With those ideas in-mind, do you think of your work as Process Art?

Elisa: Much of what is described as "Process Art" does relate to my work. Improvisation, and the way that I manipulate, respond to, and choose materials are important components of my work. That said, I do not refer to my work as "Process Art" specifically, nor do I generally look for overarching definitions as a way to think about my work. I tend to resist labels as they don't always leave room for complexity and can constrict how work is seen and thought about. How I respond to working with materials while in the midst of making a piece, and where that may lead varies and reflects transitory states of mind, and the interior narrative that may occur with that particular work. Musing takes place. I am not sure the term "Process Art" defines that experience.

La Carta (11)


paper, thread, acrylic paint, marble dust

9 x 7 inches

Terry: Is it important to you that viewers know what the source ideas are? Do you share this information when exhibiting your work?

Elisa: As source ideas I assume you are alluding to this sentence in my statement: " A specific memory underlies each piece, and partially determines its particular character and color. These memories are of images I once observed, and then held in mind... sometimes for decades, and are the subtext of the work." I might share this information in a press release, and obviously, it is in the statement that you read. It is background information however, and the work can be seen and experienced without it. My titles frequently allude to this information ("Recollection...terracotta", or "" for example), but in a way that hopefully does not "explain" the work. I have also done works that are not necessarily emerging from specific memories. So I should update that statement. If I were able to write something that completely expressed what the work is, I would probably not be bothering to make something visual.

Budding (6)


cloth, acrylic paint, thread

33 x 47 x 49 inches

Budding (6) detail

Terry: The use of stitching and the manipulation of fabric are central to your current work. I have read that you were introduced to textiles through your grandmother's embroidery when you were a child. How did you begin to incorporate textiles and textile processes into your art making?

Elisa: I never consciously intended to incorporate textiles into my work. Cloth was one of many materials I was working with, and originally served as a foundation layer over which I would apply unfired clay, wax, or paper pulp. Eventually the other materials were discontinued, and the cloth remained. So I began to utilize sewing in order to connect parts to each other, because what better way to attach cloth to itself? I realized that stitching has a lot of expressive possibilities. Memories resurfaced of the embroidery I lived with (and also learned to do) while growing up. This reminded me of how I always thought of embroidery as drawing with thread and especially savored the materiality of line created in that way.

Cross Section (2)


cloth, wax, acrylic paint, thread

36 x 33 x 7 inches

Terry: Are you aware of current trends in "fiber art"?

Elisa: I am not.

Reconstructed (5)


handmade paper, thread, acrylic paint, marble dust

18 x 8 x 8 inches

Terry: Would you tell us about your color palette and what role color plays in your work?

Elisa: In many of my works of the last few years, my choice of color relates to the particular visual memory that I am attempting to conjure in a specific piece.

Reconstructed (3)


handmade paper, thread, pigments

20 x 14 x 5 inches

Terry: How do you "feed" your creativity?

Elisa: I tend to not think about this. I mostly am concerned with each piece coming from a sense of urgency and discovery, rather than a repetition of something I already know and have done. I try to stay in the moment with a work and with the experience of working on it. For me, ideas emerge from making work.

White Shadows (2)


paper, cloth, acrylic paint, thread

9 x 7 x 1 inches

Terry: Many artists collect all sorts of things. Do you collect anything?

Elisa: At this point in my life, no. I have so much "stuff" already and limited space. However, if time, money and space were not considerations, there are things I probably would enjoy collecting.

Recollection... Pink (1)


paper, cloth, acrylic paint, thread, marble dust

28 x 83 x 6 inches

Recollection... Pink (1) - detail

Elisa's work will be part of a group exhibition at FiveMyles Brooklyn, NY from March 19th - May 6th, 2011. The title of the show is "Art/Sewn" and was curated by Ward Mintz.

Elisa's work will be featured in a solo exhibition from April 15 - May28th at the Flippo Gallery at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Va.

Please visit: to see more of Elisa's artwork, biography, reviews and her full statement.

All works courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Harris Gallery.

Blue Corner


paper, cloth, acrylic paint, thread

6 x 4 x 3 inches

My sincere thanks to Elisa for sharing her work and her thoughts.

Thank you for spending time at Studio 24-7. I love hearing from you so remember:

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