Contact Sheet 150: Ellen Garvens
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Light Work (January 14, 2009)
In this catalogue, which accompanies Light Work’s Prosthesis exhibition, Ellen Garvens’s photographs and sculptures intersect and magnify each other as they reference the ever-present, formidable and magnificent frailty of the human body. This exhibition unites photographs from Garvens’s Ambivalence series with photo-based sculptures from her Constructions series.
Garvens began creating the images from the Ambivalence series, which documents the manufacture of prosthetics, at around the same time the war in Iraq started. The prosthetics depicted in these straightforward and elegant photographs serve as reminders of the consequences of conflict and the ephemeral nature of humans who carry out that conflict. According to Mary Goodwin, assistant director at Light Work, “The Ambivalence photographs draw the contour of an exquisite interior armature, a system of support for the body that becomes visible, in this case, through the act of its replacement. Like a photograph, a prosthesis echoes the shape of what once was; its shape derives from an antecedent no longer present, signifying not only the passage of time but also the ephemeral nature and delicacy of the human form.”
The photo-based sculptures from Garvens’s body of work titled Constructions combine images of the body within delicate metal framings. In this series, hand tools, some from everyday life, such as scissors and pliers, and some, including probes and tooth extractors, more directly related to the maintenance of the body, integrate with images of hands and other overtly organic forms. Much as prosthetic devices contain the memory of the body, the hand tools and metal framings of this series give form to the photographs within them. Constructions brings the themes of the body and the revelation of its armature into three dimensions.
This catalogue includes essays by Mary Goodwin and Janelle S. Taylor.
Ellen Garvens received a B.S. in art from the University of Wisconsin, and both an M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been exhibited nationwide, including at such venues as Solomon Fine Art in Seattle; Jayne H. Baum Gallery in New York; the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art in Cleveland; Fotofest International in Houston; and Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco. She has received numerous grants, awards and fellowships, including a Royalty Research Fund Grant and an Artist Trust Fellowship from the Washington State Arts Commission, among others. Her work is included in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn.