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Ellen Sheffield

Artist Statement


My work explores the relations between language, materiality and time through small-scale hand held objects: sculptural books.  I am interested in setting up experiences that unfold on several levels. One level is the conflation of reading and looking.  Another level is the shifting of the viewer’s relationship to the object from the visual to the tactile.  Various structural and narrative strategies are threaded through each piece to allow the works to reveal themselves over time. My intention is to direct the viewer’s movement through the work by organizing content in the form of groupings, series, sequences or narratives. I like the possibility that a sculpture with moving parts requiring opening, closing, touching, turning and holding, may allow the viewer to engage in a more intimate sensory relationship with the work

Approaching the book as a cultural container has led me to inquiries into the dichotomy of exterior v. interior. The physical act of opening and looking inside may recall the memory of reading, but my unexpected use of materials and my conceptual twists on familiar objects often surprise the viewer. I am drawn to cross-genre hybrids that are ripe with possibilities for play – for pairing, rearranging, combining and redefining narrative through layered intersections of visual art, poetry and music.

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