SchoolArts Magazine

September 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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E lizabeth Alexander creates sculptures, installations, collages and multimedia artworks that combine decorative ele- ments, furniture, and a sense of transfor- mation. Cutting shapes such as flowers out of photographs, prints and vintage wallpaper, she reshapes them into forms that evoke questions about femininity, nostalgia, power, and women's traditional roles. Her installations and sculp- tures are full of flowery patterns and vintage objects that can be associated with antiquated notions of class or the woman as "homemaker," but also emphasize traditionally masculine processes like construction. Her artistic process often involves repetitive actions such as cutting shapes with an X-Acto knife, removing pattern from ceramic bowls and cups, and constructing with wood, metal, and other materials. Alexander, the daughter of an artist and an ironworker, grew up in a small town in Mas- sachusetts. In addition to studying visual art, she learned to weld and worked in her father's shop for a time. She received a BFA from Massa- chusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, a school that, like the Bauhaus of the early 1900s, cultivates the integration of fine art with design. Alexander's work can be connected to the historical lineage of paper as an art mate - rial. Paper made its way west from China to Muslim lands by the 700s, and Europe by the 1100s, where it quickly became an essential part of art-making. Until the late 1700s, it was primarily a support for painting, drawing, and printmaking. The first usage of paper as a stand-alone art form came in the genre of cut silhouette portraits. In the early 1900s, Sur - realist and Cubist artists invented the collage, which featured cut and pasted paper as the main event. In the twenty-first century, paper is being explored as a stand-alone medium in myriad ways, but possibly never in such dra - matic and monumental fashion as the installa- tions of Elizabeth Alexander. Transforming Ordinar Materials into Extraordinar Artworks SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 25 L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G ELIZABETH ALEXANDER M U LT I M E D I A A R T I S T Elizabeth Alexander working in her studio.

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