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.
Eleanor has had solo shows in Boston, Nashville, Knoxville, Flagstaff, AZ, and at the University of Alabama. Her work has been shown at Saltworks Gallery (Atlanta, GA), the Drawing Center (New York, NY), Grin (Providence, RI) and Ortega y Gasset (New York, NY). Her work was chosen for 1708 Gallery’s ‘FEED 2013’ (Richmond, VA). She has been awarded an Endowment for the Arts through the Whiteman Foundation, and the Herman E. Spivey Fellowship. 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 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, sprinkled and sprayed, reflecting traditional feminine work and crafts. Often the subject matter acts as a metaphor. The lines of a lawn chair seat serves as a veiled reference to the grid, and its breakdown – presumably by human weight – to an imagined encounter with the human body. Attention is drawn to the painting as an object through the justification of its parameters by making it into a rectilinear object such as a TV set. Sometimes found objects reinforce the essential flatness of the picture planes they lean against, bridging actual and pictorial space. I find the frankness of the materials pushes against the deception of illusion and allows for a recognition that is deeper than language.