Ellen Frances Tuchman
As a child, I deeply loved the Ice Capades and circus costumes. Spectacle. Color. General exuberance. A joy of surface. I am haunted by the mirrored house I saw at LACMA and Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” ride, with its screwy-colored flora. In school I printed ethereal stripes and geometries on chiffon and silk. After moving to NY, I switched to vellum, adding threads, and then in 1977, I started with the beads. Drawing with glass. Pointillist dots and dashes of color – matte, iridescent, metallic, short, long, no limits to what I can find, ready-made for the taking. Over the years I’ve added traditional paper-crafts and more needlework techniques to my vocabulary, but always with a painterly focus.
Echoes of topography and circuitry within the modernist grid play upon our transitory and sensory memory. Dries Van Noten has said, “The more the machines develop, the more we feel like switching to what is human. Handwork is the human beings’ most simple and best way of expression of his relation with time.” A counterpoint of paint/beads, computer-drafting/hand-sewn embellishment exists in my carefully constructed obsessive worlds.
Recently, my paintings have taken on a tongue-in-cheek spirit, looking at pop culture without the morbidity of my extended exploration of Victoriana. Many years immersed in the vagaries of the four seasons have given way to play. In addition to the narrative pieces, I have been continuing my exploration of evanescent, atmospheric color concerns with an extended series of paper quillwork paintings.
Matchbook advertisements and tobacciana are my ephemera of choice. A wealth of fanciful materials continues to serve as a palette, and 1940’s punchboards inspire; fragments from quotations, songs and parables are both interwoven and quilled within some paintings. Nostalgia becomes a vehicle for marking time, with painstaking and obsessively crafted moments showing a portal to our romanticized past.