Elizabeth McAlpin

Born in New York City; Currently lives and works in New York City

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Currently, I work with mixed media using various techniques on paper. I layer textures, patterns, etchings, drawings, photographs, paint, as well as thread and stencil on paper. I do this work because it is a form of discovery or a way to understand the myriad of thoughts and feelings that pass through my mind. They are like signs and symbols that I investigate to understand their meanings and how they connect to each other to communicate beyond words. When a sign appears that deeply draws my attention, I ask it why? why a crow? why a cicada? why the color blue? why this shape? There is usually some meaning behind the signs and symbols that emerge from within or catch my eye.

The subject within a piece of work or across many works is a mix of realistic, symbolic, and abstract imagery that work together to tell a narrative. Each piece has a story and there are often common threads across works. When I am drawn to an object or concept I explore it for the established significance and how it may connect with my internal states. Through the research on these objects of fixation, I uncover my subconscious language speaking to me. I document them in the artwork like a timeline; a timeline that may not be linear as my mind reflects on the past, present, and future. The process is an investigation of the self as it engages with the world.

I often have several ideas slowly cooking on different burners at once. Sometimes I combine techniques such as etching, collage, monotype, lithography, painting, and collograph to work out the idea. Other times, I focus on just using just one technique to convey or uncover the message. From the various media and techniques I create works on paper that either stand alone or become raw material for collages.  Over time the works in progress connect to each other whether it is through shared materials, forms, color, or marks. The narrative of the self evolves within and between the works.

Creating works on paper, in particular, is very freeing. What I like about working on paper is that while it requires some planning and preparation, the plan inevitably changes as the process unfolds. It takes on its own direction and form as it draws from my consciousness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this the flow state.  It is a state that usually occurs when your ” body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” When I am working I feel this internal struggle to let go and control at the same time. That is the stretching of the mind. You keep asking yourself, what does it need? is it finished? maybe, not sure.

My work comes out with intensity to unload inner accumulations of thoughts, feelings, moods, and experiences. What manifests is a narrative about these oscillating internal states. The next piece is an unknown variable as it transforms and evolves through the process. The narrative continues and the plot thickens.

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I studied with various mentors in the U.S. and abroad. My creative path started when I moved to New Mexico in 1991. I practiced old master painting and drawing with Tony & Celeste Ryder for many years in New Mexico. During the same period, I completed several six month intensive sessions with their mentor, Ted Jacobs, at L’Ecole Albert DeFois, in France. Splitting my time, six months in France and six months in New Mexico, I worked rigorously to develop my skills. I saw this classical style as a means to develop tools in a tool box or learning a particular language of seeing. But just as there are many languages, ways to communicate, so are there many ways to see. In 1997 I moved back to New York City in order to develop my own visual narrative. In New York City, I worked as a muralist and freelance artist while also focusing on the development of an inner dialogue.  While living and working in New York, I took an interest in printmaking. Over the years, I practiced with various master printmakers in order to incorporate other methods and processes into my work. I continue to practice printmaking processes as well as other methods and mediums to convey the visual messages.

Please also visit/follow           _eternal_narrative_        on instagram. 

Education

2018  The Manhattan Graphic Center, New York, N.Y.

  • (2019) Gerry Wall (Threading)
  • (2018; 2019) Arnold Brooks (Lithography)
  • (2018) Bill Gauthier (Gilding on Paper)
  • (2018) Lisa Mackie (Mixed Media)

2017 – 2018: Galisteo Street Studio, Santa Fe, N.M.

  • (2018) Ron Pokrasso (Layers & Plates)
  • (2017) Ron Pokrasso (Layers & Plates)

2004 – 2017: Lower Eastside Printshop, New York, N.Y.

  • (2017) Karen Lederer (Monotype)
  • (2010) Sarah Nicole Phillips (Monotype)
  • (2004) Randy Hemminghaus (Etching)

2004 – 2009: Center for Contemporary Printmaking, South Norwalk, C.T.

  • (2004; 2009) Anthony Kirk (Etching; Monotype)
  • (2004) Dan Weldon (Solarplate)

1994 – 1997: L’Ecole Albert Defois, France (Ted Seth Jacobs)

1993 – 1996: Ryder Studio, Santa Fe, N.M. (Anthony & Celeste Ryder)

Private Collections and Commissions: New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Mexico, Australia, France

Exhibitions (Group)

2019 The Crow Show, The Studio Door, San Diego, CA

2019 Pairings, Plaxall Gallery, Long Island City, NY

2019 Threads, Manhattan Graphics Center, NY, NY

2018 Paperview, Westbeth Gallery, NY, NY

2004-2015 Monothon Fund Raiser, Center for Contemporary Printmaking, CT

1995 Portraiture, Galerie des Commenceaux, Anjou France

Related Work

1997-2010 Freelance and Commission Artist, New York, NY

1997-1999 Mural Artist, Evergreene Architectural Arts, New York, NY

When I am not making art, I am working as an educational media designer, researcher, and adjunct faculty at NYU http://elizabethmcalpin.hosting.nyu.edu/. Life is busy when you are just trying to survive and still do what you love.

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