Eleanor Aldrich was born in Springerville, Arizona. A participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, she also holds an MFA in Painting & Drawing from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she currently lives. She earned her BFA in Painting & Drawing through the Academie Minerva (Groningen, the Netherlands) and Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. She was a participant in the Drawing Center’s first Open Sessions, and works in a long-distance collaboration ALDRICH+WEISSBERGER with the artist Barbara Weissberger.
Eleanor has had solo shows in Boston, Nashville, Knoxville, Flagstaff, AZ, the University of Alabama, and the University of North Georgia. Her work has been shown at Saltworks Gallery and White Space (Atlanta, GA), the University of Pittsburgh, the Drawing Center (New York, NY), 1708 (Richmond, VA), the Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO), Grin (Providence, RI), and Ortega y Gasset (New York, NY). She is currently represented by Channel to Channel in Chattanooga. She has been awarded an Endowment for the Arts through the Whiteman Foundation, and the Herman E. Spivey Fellowship, and has been an artist in residence at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. Her work has been included in New American Paintings, and reviewed in Art in America and on Artforum.com.
My work is textural and alchemical; I match materials – often industrial sealants – and techniques to the subject matter they look like, thereby approaching verisimilitude without realistic rendering. I work with a kind of mimetic literalism that embodies the subject but serves pictorial conventions as well, posing questions about physicality as the standard of reality. I choose materials that mimic the physicality of oil paint but are beyond my ability to completely control. The dominance of the material properties act as an inanimate foil to my vision for the work. I attribute my appreciation of mystery and the possibility of transformation in my work to my Catholic upbringing, in which materials were transformed and images held power over life.
My work is about the places where the concerns of modernist painting meet my own experiences and the physical reality of the body. Sometimes the encounter is in the application – paint is combed, piped, squished, and sprayed, and paper transfers are rubbed off; playing with ideas of femininity and the purity of paint. The material squeeze invites the empathy of the body and is at times funny, beautiful, revolting, and satisfying. The grid appears as a support- a resist that molds the material as it presses through. In this way the material is metaphoric of conformity and issues of control over one’s body.