Elizabeth is a multidisciplinary artist using drawing, painting, sculpture, video, coding, mapping, and other processes to interpret and reinterpret personal, community, and societal narratives about identity, memory, belonging, (dis)placement, (in)visibility, erasure, and the unspeakable. The common thread that runs through all her work is to look at old realities anew, to confront those realities, reflect upon them, shape them, and transform them. Whether through studio practice or community-engaged processes, she believes we can all be creative catalysts for change.
Elizabeth was born and raised in Nebraska, a middle-class Black girl with two parents who were professionals. Growing up, she attended two churches on Sunday—the Methodist (white) one down the street for Sunday school and the African Methodist Episcopal one for church services. She attended public schools and public universities, graduating with degrees in journalism, studio art, and geographic information science. She has worked in mass media, health-related non-profits, and for herself.
Each of those fairly unremarkable facts—and others not shared– colors her artistic practice. To borrow a phrase from professor, geographer, and prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore, her Black experience may not be entirely unique but it is distinct, producing a consciousness that guides her interpretive, analytical, and practical artistic practice. Her current work focuses on three interrelated themes: (1) geographies, space, and place; (2) contemporary state and societal violences; (3) legacies and vestiges of historical violence and trauma.
Her process begins with reading, research, and writing. Often, a specific artwork begins with a word of a phrase that prompts an imagining. She then move to collecting journalistic and archival photos as references, a nod to her continuing relationship with her first profession. Then comes experimentation in the studio, (re)solving questions relating the philosophical, technical, relational, spatial, temporal, and practical aspects of the works.
Curator Rosa Martinez wrote, “The artist may be a healer, an inventor of worlds, a worker who activates social relationships, a researcher seeking lost paradises, an electrician generating new connections, a theoretician studying cultural identities and their displacements, or a laborer dismantling the hermetic constructions of the powers that be.”
Martinez’s statement offers a challenge to Elizabeth as an artist, to rise to those larger purposes, creating spaces of critical thinking, critical feeling, critical reflection that may lead to a re-imagining of possibilities.