Visual Arts — October 17, 2012 18:28 — 0 Comments

Ellen Ziegler

I have to admit that when first viewing Ellen’s series Body Double, my initial reaction was one of apprehension.  This trepidation came from a place of fear, and more specifically fear of the unknown and then, the fear of the unknown me.  Halted by the pop quiz of her Rorschach’s, I suddenly felt ill-equipped to answer for myself.   Quickly realizing how important my role is as a viewer of this work and how each of us informs its reading, I set myself to work.  I began to study intently the larger forms, the details, and layers of each piece in Body Double.  Mildly hoping to avoid any further insecurity and embarrassment for being unprepared.

So, when approaching an earlier body of Ellen’s work, The Book of Knowledge, I was shocked to find myself on another, subtler, path of self-discovery.  And, because this isn’t a pop quiz with a scale of grading, I will share with you my experience and the place that I traveled to through her work.  As a sci-fi fan and part-time romantic, I found place and space.  I found myself drifting through interstellar space, carefully taking in clusters of star groups and gravitational momentum as I moved closer and closer to the light waves that traveled closer and closer to me.

As inevitable participants in Ellen’s work, we will each have a different experience.  This partnership engages us.  While viewing our reflections and dissecting our readings we are able to glimpse Ellen, our artist, and discover the unique beauty and adventure of her art.

-Visual Arts Editor, Liz McDonald

Body Double


The book of knowledge is a word-free, 40-page book, 26” x 32”, 52″ x 32″ double spread. Mixed media on tar paper.

Binding is cloth-covered board, five-hole punched, with screw post fasteners.

This is the first of three unique volumes.

(Note: a “unique volume” is the book collector’s term for a one-off book, no edition, just the original.)

All photographs of The book of knowledge by Tom Collicott.

For more, see


Body Double

Body Double draws on the bilateral symmetry of nature and the geometric notations of the nervous system: within the formal "body" of the painting, the life that animates it resides. Intricate brush drawing contrasts with the spontaneity of translucent metallic pigment forming fractal patterns.

The use of roofing paper as support is tied to the artist's ongoing interest in tar: a primal underground source of fossils, fuel and prehistory, analogous to the upwelling of images from the subconscious mind.

Ziegler was represented at the Sofia Biennale in Bulgaria in 2011 with a large tarpaper installation; her first New York show in 2013 will include paintings from the Body Double body of work.


Artist's statement: Chemistry is the emotion of matter

I source the immaterial through the material. My practice includes drawing, sculpture, assemblage, and artist’s books. I work with mirrored glass, tar paper, cyanotype, and drawings made with an electrode on a copper table. These arcane materials, with their sometimes unpredictable outcome, allow for accident and serendipity as well as ongoing refinement of technique. Chemistry is the emotion of matter.


Artist’s statement: The Book of Knowledge

An artist’s work is a consistent search for knowledge – either personal or external – about a specific subject or in consideration of the arc of life. No promises here: the “knowledge” conveyed contains no words or facts, only a progression of visceral visual experience. The unspoken and the mysterious also count as knowledge. The book enacts its search and gathering.

Tarpaper is a peculiar, ordinary, flexible, smelly and evocative medium. It takes all media, it’s durable, and it has its own intrinsic metaphors.

I grew up making frequent visits to the ooze of the La Brea Tar Pits in my native Los Angeles, where animal remains are still excavated. For me, this underground source of fossils, fuel and prehistory is analogous to the upwelling of images from a mysterious source.

The book of knowledge is now in the collection of the Brand Libraries, Glendale, CA. It was awarded the First Prize Juror’s Purchase Award in the Brand 40 Competition, 2011.



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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney