Have you met…Lori Ellison?

An introduction can be a wonderful thing. You can meet interesting people, and make new friends. You can be introduced to your new favorite foods, books, music, or artist.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite artists. Some of whom I’ve been familiar with for years, and others I’ve only recently been introduced to.

The person I’d like to introduce is the artist Lori Ellison.

"Best western"

“Best western”ballpoint pen, 8 1/2 x 11” notebook paper

Lori Ellison was born in Washington DC, and lives in New York, NY.

Untitled, 2010 Gouache on wood panel 8 x 6 inches

Untitled, 2010
Gouache on wood panel
8 x 6 inches

On Humility: Or Small Works.

“In Richmond, Virginia there once was a gallery named RAW for Richmond Artists Workshop that had an exhibition of many works entitled Small Art Goes directly to the Brain.

If one is lucky, Small Art goes directly to the heart. For this it must be humble and on a suitably modest scale – in this way some work can be crowned Great. (Golda Meir once said “don’t be humble, you aren’t that great.”) To work with humility, one must acquire some of the practical virtues artist need: diligence, temperance, modesty, bravery, ardor, devotion and economy.

To work with humility it is better to strive for the communal if not the downright tribal; for wisdom in choices rather than cleverness; good humor in practice; and practice as daily habit. Phillip Guston famously said he went to work in his studio every single day because what if he did’t and “that day the angel came”? Henry James once said, “We work in the dark, we give what we have, our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.” Doubt is humility after a long long apprenticeship.

Small works dance a clumsy tango with one’s shadow. Huge works can ice skate over one’s nerves, file under fingernails on a chalkboard – I can just hear the screeching.

If our work is so small and reticent that one doesn’t enter the space of the painting, no mind – we just might be making work that enters straight into the viewer’s ribs. I am weary of art that tickles my forehead for an instant and is gone – I am looking for the kind that thrums in my chest and lodges there, in memory, like those souvenir phials of the air of Paris Duchamp proposed.

Proportion based on the lyric, not the epic – that is where the juice lives. Stirred, not shaken. Duchamp once said that art is the electricity that goes between the metal pole of the work of art and the viewer, and I don’t need shock treatment. Art that is the size and resonance of a haiku, quiet and solid as the ground beneath one’s feet – not art that wears a monocle and boxing gloves in hopes of knocking other art out of the room.

A discrete art, valiantly purified of the whole hotchpotch of artist’s tricks and tics.

That, that is what I am looking for.” LE

Untitled, 2010 Gouache on wood panel 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Untitled, 2010
Gouache on wood panel
11 x 8 1/2 inches

Other material relating to Lori Ellison.

The James Kalm Report: Lori Ellison.

Mackenzie Fine Art: Lori Ellison.

Artcritical: Lori Ellison.

MoMa The Collection: Lori Ellison.

Cincinnati Art Snob: ArtWorld: Lori Ellison.

If you liked this introduction please check out the Previous and Next.