Elise Engler



My work is documentary in nature, chronicling particular experiences by drawing/ painting all of its components. Most recently the work is the result of time spent in Antarctica as a grantee of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Artists and Writers Program. Earlier drawings were made during and after an expedition to the to the Galapagos Islands where I drew in the research labs at the Charles Darwin Foundationand all around the islands. I also chronicled a voyage aboard the Research Vessel Wecoma, as it sailed up the Oregon/Washington coast.

Earlier projects have included drawing everything I own, the contents of women’s bags and an extensive series of drawings about the things purchased with our tax dollars. This large series of drawings includes depictions of everything in and on a fire truck, the contents of a government funded virology laboratory, the battered chairs in a public school classroom and the range of equipment used in Iraq. In addition I have been recording the war casualties. Wrapped in the Flag depicts coalition troop losses, and consists of rows of small silhouetted figures (over 4000), each filled with a portion of the appropriate national flag, then labeled with the soldier’s name / age. Collateral Damage documents civilian casualties, mainly Iraqi. Pencil silhouettes are filled in with white pencil, many identified by name/ age. Over 21,000 figures have been drawn so far, a tiny fraction of the reality. Together there are now 35 scrolls 5’ by 1’ wide. The drawing of the virology lab lead me to the subject of being an artist in the midst of science—and it is on this that I continue to work.

The sum of its parts is greater than the whole.  Like an anthropologist/archaeologist  (and often “fly on the wall”) I approach a situation, document its parts, by observing, listening and researching. The result is work that goes beyond the elements themselves to give the viewer a full sense of an experience.