Elisabeth Smolarz utilizes objects as portals to memory by collaborating with individuals to create shrine like installations of their own objects in their home environments and thus creating a self-portrait. The installation of their precious objects which embody their sense of self-hood and identity, tells the story of each individual, and forms a series of intricate non-concrete portraits following the tradition of symbolism of a early still life paintings.
As our first community based artist in residence at Guttenberg Arts, Ms. Smolarz will be focusing on the population of town of Guttenberg. By working with our community members and its people that make the city work: such as teachers, firefighters, police man, nurses and doctors, bakers, city employees, sanitation, shops, transportation and even children, all its inhabitants of the city are represented. This series of self-portraits together make up a larger community portrait and one that shows what it means to be one of the most densely populated incorporated towns in America.
Ms. Smolarz’ s larger body of works utilizes the multidisciplinary forms of photography, video, sculpture, performance and drawing to explore the social structures which constitute human interaction within a culture. In order to expose collective consciousness and patterns of behavior, she often ask strangers to become participants and collaborators in her projects. The immediacy of her working method, wherein participants are invited to act freely and with little or no direction before the camera, fosters an improvisational approach that reveals hidden aspects of these structures and allows individual voices to be heard. The resulting bodies of works often consist of series of case studies which focus on questions of the strategies of our self-definition that are often rooted in our economic, social and cultural surroundings. Ms. Smolarz’s work aims to expose the ways in which the human psyche is shaped by one’s cultural, political, and economical surroundings.
Elisabeth Smolarz received her BA and her MFA from the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart.
More of Elisabeth Smolarz’s work can be found at: www.smolarz.com