Elise Engler: A Year on Broadway
October 30 through December 20, 2015
Opening reception: October 30, 2015, 6-9pm
Elise Engler: A Year On Broadway is an exhibition of gouache, watercolor and colored pencil drawings created in a yearlong project to document every block of Broadway in Manhattan. Begun on May 19th, 2014, Ms Engler alternated drawing locations from uptown to downtown and back as she drew her way up and down the 13 miles Broadway slashes across the grid of Manhattan streets. Through wind and rain, snow and sunshine over an entire year Ms Engler drew every block on 6" high x 22" wide sheets of paper that are accordion folded so that some views are 4" wide, others are sometimes double and occasionally triple wide (12"). Attached together the entire project measures 6" high and 102' wide. She created the final drawing on May 18th, 2015 on the block near her home at 107th Street and Broadway.
Documentary in nature, Engler’s work chronicles particular experiences and places by drawing and painting a detailed registry of every component of that experience or location. Earlier projects have included drawing everything she owns, the contents of women’s handbags and an extensive series of drawings about the things purchased with US Federal tax dollars. As a grantee of the National Science Foundations Antarctica Artists and Writers Program, she spent several months at the science stations in Antarctica cataloging her experience. Other series inventoried the research labs at the Charles Darwin Foundation and the surrounding landscape of the Galapagos Islands, a chronicle of a voyage aboard an environmental research vessel, everything on a fire truck, the contents of a government funded virology laboratory and so on.
By observing, listening and researching Elise Engler’s work goes beyond the component elements themselves to give the viewer a full sense of an experience or place. Her extensive, orderly representations of every object, every person and every experience within chosen situations are registers of information about an experience broken into its constituent parts. This gives her a process to remember and to understand her experience. For us, the viewer, each drawing of objects not only gives us a frame by frame film strip of the quotidian accoutrements of everyday experience, but the small drawings of landscapes or interiors made while travelling archive where she has been. This is particularly true for A Year on Broadway where the collection of drawings recreates the full experience walking along one of the world’s most famous avenues.
Lying somewhere between history painting, taxonomy and natural history, Engler’s A Year on Broadway documents in minute detail the larger experience of contemporary life in New York City. Engler says, "The result is work that goes beyond the elements themselves to give the viewer a full sense of an experience."