Some artists express themselves through form, some through subtle representation, some through texture, composition, or process, but Elise Engler is a little different. She expresses herself through being as straight-forward and all inclusive as possible. Engler is what she self-describes as a list artist. She will choose a specific event or idea and draw or paint everything that is included in that concept. For example, she did a series of work to depict what our tax dollars were going towards, she visited the virology lab at the NYC department of health and hygiene and simply drew a small picture of every single thing that was purchased. Each item, side by side, top to bottom, in no specific type of pattern or collage.
Engler works in a very scientific type of process. She is not doing much interpretation. She has her equation of a process, applies it to a situation, and delivers the facts. She leaves it to the viewer to develop a reaction. Her work is so scientific in fact, that she has been invited to be a part of several scientific endeavors. In 2008 she was invited to travel along on the research vessel Wecoma to document what she experienced as researchers studied oceanic climate changes along the Oregon/ Washington coast.
One thing I like about her is how she can use this very same process to express both something serious and something amusing. Her series entitled Collateral Damage includes over 18,000 sketches of civilians who have died in the Iraq conflict. The number of casualties is much higher, as such the project continues. And other times she can be much more playful as in the work entitled 49 Pops, where she simply draws 49 things that have anything to do with the word “pop.”
Engler is Brooklyn based, so even though I haven’t seen her work in person, I hope to do so soon. I was introduced to this artist by the wonderful Bethany Brown, so thanks to her. If you got a second or a few hundred, check out this hand drawn animation of Engler’s: http://www.eliseengler.com/view-hand-drawn-animation-and-in-progress-video-of-penguin-colonies-antarctica