A Silvery Ushering Ushers in a New Artist

A local artist gets her chance on the gallery circuit and shares about her work along the way.

The Voyeur, a gallery in the Whiteaker neighborhood, hosted an artist talk by Tilke Elkins about her first solo show, A Silvery Ushering.

The artist’s inaugural show consisted of work that combined elements of the representational and abstract. The paintings and objects, all made from natural pigments and materials, depicted scenes and narratives of the artist’s own experience with place. The group of work saturated the small gallery. Gallery owner Mo Bowen says she encourages the artists she shows to use all the space the establishment, “I like pushing them, filling the entire space with good work.”

Elkins used a lot of earth tones, greens in particular. The paint -natural pigments mixed with water- and the surface -recycled wood boards- allows for a great deal of transparency. Layers of paint in many areas seem to combine, yet maintain their distinct plane within the space of the piece. Elkins made the point that while this is part of the materiality of the paint, it also contributes to the perceived characteristic of the moss common in the areas her paintings represent.

The paintings and sculptures are meticulously made with all natural, found materials, an aspect that the artist said is very important to her work. Elkins said that the materiality of the found wood was extremely important and, “Would always determine what I do.” Throughout the talk Elkins emphasized that the materials were just as important as the subject matter painted upon them or the figure that they were formed into.

Elkins described her process of art making  in great detail; she claimed the process was very important to the final work as rather then the final work standing apart from the process of its creation. She gathers all the natural elements for her pigments then mixes them into a sort of watercolor. She generally gathers the boards near the river; the Willamette was featured heavily as a muse. Depending on the size of the board, would do all the studies and final paintings at the site. Larger paintings are done in the studio simply because of logistics. Elkin said she chooses sites in the woods by the river and adds elements like washed up objects or humanistic elements that she often finds at the site.

The artist inquired about the public’s perception rather then reception of the work, and asked several times if people could pick out small elements within the work. She said the play of planes of existence and interaction with, and within, the work interested her. She added, “Feeling things but not identifying, it’s why I make work.”

The artist explains her artistic process (Stacey Hollis)

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