Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elisabeth Preble-Painter-Altered Esthetics Featured Interview

"Doily Ninja 62' 12"
Elisabeth Preble

Altered Esthetics "Hope of the Union"
Featured interview
Exhibition dates: June 30, 2011 - July 28, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday July 1 7-10pm
Artist Discussion: Saturday 7/16/11 - 1-3pm

Name: Elisabeth Preble
City/State: North Minneapolis, MN
Email: profile:

Bio: Elisabeth Preble is a life long artist and mess maker. She graduated from Northwestern College in St Paul in 2008 with a degree in Studio Art, and currently works full time at Half Price Books. Elisabeth has won awards and had her work included in many shows over the last few years, including Foot in the Door 4 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, winning first place in the student division in the Artist's Magazine 2009 Art Competition, and exhibits at the University of MN, Altered Esthetics, Northwestern College, Riverland Community College and St. Cloud State University. Her work has appeared in City Pages, The Artist's Magazine and Neurology Now. She has work in several collections, both private and public.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I call my work paintings, but I don't use a whole lot of paint anymore. It's becoming much more assemblage and collage-like now. I have a hard time describing it to people, because it's not painting and it's not sculpture and it's not collage, but it combines all of those elements. I say I "build" each piece--there's a foundation that sets the tone for everything to follow, objects laid into layers of tar gel disappear or stick out depending on where in the process they're added, and each layer has to work with all the others. It can take me many months, even up to a year, to complete a piece to my satisfaction. I just keep adding more stuff until I feel it's done.
My collages and paintings used to be very separate bodies of work--the collages being assembled painstakingly and carefully, with a clean modern feel to them, whereas my paintings where quick, emotional, messy affairs to complete. I've slowed down my painting and have sped up creating collages. I incorporate so many found objects in my paintings now--that's one reason I work so small, the finished pieces can be quite heavy with all the layers.

I'm experimenting right now with several different ideas.

One track I'm on is creating "paintings" that don't contain paint. I'm using fabric, jewelry, paper collage and whatever else I can think of to make 2-D compositions that are about color, form, implied and actual texture, the illusion of depth and all the other elements of a painting...but without opening a can of paint. I'm having fun playing with the boundaries--when is a painting no longer a painting?

Another avenue I'm investigating is making jewelry. I've had several people ask me recently if I do, so that tells me that maybe I should look into it. The problem and challenge is coming up with something that hasn't already been done. It seems pointless to me to make a necklace when the same idea is already out there (and executed much better than I have the skills to do).

I recently completed "Dish", and I felt it turned out really well so I'd like to do a series now. And then the challenge becomes how to display them as well; typically a dish is on a horizontal surface and you interact with it differently than when it's hanging vertically on a wall.

I'm also a fan of street art, and I'm currently working on a series I'm calling the Doily Ninjas. I've already left about dozen around the country on a road trip I took earlier this summer. In the upcoming months, they will be popping up around the Twin Cities and (hopefully) winding up in people's homes.

As you can tell, I like to have my fingers in a lot of pies when it comes to creating work. This is just a sampling of the ideas I'm thinking about and working on. I typically have at least 25 paintings going at once--I like to be able to work on something whenever the mood strikes.

"Migratory Patterns" 5 in x 3.5in

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
I hope people feel happy and enjoyment when they look at my work. There's a lot of depressing art out there. I mean, it's beautiful work, but just sad or scary or dark. There's a part of me that likes to rebel against that mentality. Life is already dark enough, I don't want to dwell on it. I want to capture the good feelings and have them shimmering and glittering on the wall, to remind you of what's good and joyous in life. I feel like nightmares are in vogue right now--I want to capture the happy dreams instead.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

My college advisor once told me something to the effect of:
"Never stop asking yourself questions. When you stop asking questions about what you're creating, you won't be making anything." I can't just be content with what I've already done--I need to keep trying out and mulling over new ideas. You're never done learning, being a student.

Another great piece of advice he told me (and the rest of my freshman drawing class): "It's not the most talented who are the most successful. It's those who persevere and stick with it who become great."

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
I've taken over an unfinished room in the basement of my family's house for my really messy work (everything I do involves varying degrees of mess making). My parents have been kind enough to let me turn most of the room into a studio space. I have semi-organized piles of fabric, lace, thread, doilies of all kinds, coloring books, dozens of paintings in various stages of completion sharing space with luggage, gift wrap, baskets, old furniture, bins of Christmas decorations, cans of homemade jam and salsa and other household detritus. It makes for an interesting experience sometimes. It's a pretty small space but I like working at home--how many artists can get up in the morning and go play around in their studio while still in their pjs?

I'm sort of like an art Johnny Appleseed when it comes to my creative process: I leave deposits of art stuff all around my house as I go through my day (much to the annoyance sometimes of the rest of my family). My bedroom floor has little piles of pages from magazines that I'll use as inspiration or cut up for collages; random odds and ends my Mom finds for me appear on my dresser; a small painting or two that I'm currently stumped by resides on my packed bookcase (I like to look at the art and mull over what I can try next to finish it); the kitchen table might have a few art magazines (American Craft is one of my favorites) and my small sketchbook piled on it.

I have a full time job at Half Price Books, so I typically don't have hours on end to create like I did in college. My creative activity comes in waves: I'll have a free day and get a lot of painting in, or I'll have an hour to cut out some magazine clippings, or even 15 minutes to just tidy my work spaces and reorganize a few things, or jotting down a few ideas in one of my sketchbooks to try out later. I may not be making something, but my mind is usually thinking about something art related.

When I'm creating my work, I describe it as play because it's so much fun.I like to have everything within arm's reach, because I hate having stop everything to get up and go find some object when I get in the flow.

"Storytime" 3.5 in x 8in.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

K. Daphane Koop is an artist who also is interested in pushing the boundaries of what painting is. I just love her wood and glass inlay pieces (

Kendall Bohn's paintings just delight me with their color and intensity ( I'm also a big fan of his Kaleidoscopia coloring books.

My friend, Jerilyn Klemme (, and I have had a show together in the past. Her creatures explore issues of family and self identity.

They all use vivid colors in their work to make a strong visual impact. I love bright color and am drawn to artists' work that make use of it.

"Phantasy" 8in x 3in

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I've lived in Minneapolis my whole life so there's places I return to, like visiting old friends.
The Sculpture Garden is one of my favorites: I'm outside, getting some fresh air, enjoying the art and I usually leave with some fresh inspiration. There are multiple drawings of the Spoon and Cherry in my sketchbooks. It's a very soothing and familiar place to wander.

And of course, if I'm at the Sculpture Garden, I usually make a detour through the Walker ( I'm not a huge fan of the building (it's confusing to me still) and I'm not always thrilled by the art, but I always end up with at least one new idea to investigate. I love their summer time programming though: the Open Field programs, especially the Drawing Club, are a lot of fun!

Hands down, my favorite art place is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I'm a card carrying member, and I could spend (and have) the better part of a day there. There are pieces that I have to see every time I visit, especially the Art Nouveau living room from Duluth.

The Soo Visual Arts Center ( and their neighbors at the Manufactory ( get visited whenever I'm wandering Uptown.

I've recently discovered the American Craft Council library ( in Northeast Minneapolis. It's a great place to research artists and find fresh inspiration; the ACC has a huge collection of books, magazines and archives on numerous artists.

Speaking of Northeast, don't even get me started on all the open studio events. I love Art-A-Whirl and the monthly open studios at the Northrup King Building and California Arts Building. Altered Esthetics ( in the Q.arma Building is a gallery whose shows I've been part of a few times now.

Form + Content Gallery ( and Circa Gallery ( just north of downtown Minneapolis are both places I like to make regular visits to.

I could go on, because I'm constantly on the look out for new galleries and art places to check out. I enjoy getting lost or going off the beaten path and discovering new things in my city. And once I find something awesome, I always go back. I try to keep my eyes open, because I never know where I'll find something that inspires me next.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? is a great resource that I can't recommend enough--the majority of my shows have come through calls for art I see listed on there. They do a great job keeping me up to date on what's current in the MN art scene, and sharing opportunities I wouldn't otherwise know about.

I write a blog about art for parents called the The Art Helpline (, so I'm always on the hunt for good online art resources. I've come across many great ones, from the Google Art Project ( to Europeana (

The Cool Hunter ( is a fun arts related website--I can spend hours browsing their archives of articles and beautiful pictures.

Deviant Art ( has a lot of crap, but it's also home to some beautiful and inspiring art.

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

"Hope of the Union," Altered Esthetics July exhibit:
Altered Esthetics "Hope of the Union"

Exhibition dates: June 30, 2011 - July 28, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday July 1 7-10pm
Artist Discussion: Saturday 7/16/11 - 1-3pm

My work is currently on view at Beloved Studios in St. Paul ( I also will have a show at the St Paul Tea Garden this fall. Keep your eyes out for Doily Ninjas as well, those will be all around Minneapolis soon.

Dish - 6.5 "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am familiar with Elisabeth's art work but feel like I have a whole new perspective and appreciation for the various ways she gets inspiration to create after reading this article. Great job on helping a person get into the often elusive and creative mind of an artist.