Artist Statement | Lena B. Ellis-Boatman
I work in printmaking, fibers, mixed media, and installation. In my artwork I explore our ideas about the natural world and how human systems of knowledge shape our realities.
In my prints and other small-scale work, I explore our perceptions of the natural world, working from a combination of observation and imagination. Through these organic, botanical forms, I express my respect for the natural world and share my awe at its sublime power.
I invite you to meander within branches and rhizomes, navigating a forest, a thicket, a grotto, an eroded riverbank – with plant roots brushing past your head. I hope to evoke a mixed sensation of discomfort and wonder. We can appreciate the beauty and complexity of the natural world while recognizing we are not in control of how it operates – or how it may respond to our human presence.
My larger work and installations use similar imagery. They become microcosms of the natural world, but they also serve as metaphors for our worldviews. I’m interested in the interplay between the material world, the fluid worlds of our imaginations, and the human-made knowledge systems which structure our diverse daily experiences.
I try to tease out how we think about our worldviews and question the knowledge systems we have inherited. Moving around, within, and between these large-scale artworks lets us step into, out of, and between microcosms – suggesting that our worldviews, our macrocosms, are more mutable than we might expect.
People in academia expect you to list your research interests. Mine include worldviews, construction of knowledge, history, narrative, internal landscapes, dreamscapes, fiction, early modern natural philosophy and cosmology, folklore, myth, archetypal characters, and saints. My additional long-term interests include women’s, feminist, and queer identities; magic realism; medieval literature; and “women’s work.”