Experience is never limited, it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air borne particle in its tissue. Henry James
The world of pattern is a simultaneous universe, incorporating the motion of light and implying the interior states of imagination and emotion. Pattern is present in every form that is compelling both seen and unseen. My work encompasses a broad range of media including metalpoint, encaustic, sewing, and photography. These mediums spillover and manifest in different forms, drawings, textiles, artist books, animation and installation. I work with a microscope connected to my computer as a means of decoding and examining the cellular composition of material matter. My art making process is inspired by my practice as a student of Zen Buddhism, an ongoing way of deepening my appreciation for the unseen creatures and forms that cohabit our world while encouraging a sense of interconnection.
I draw with metal, sometimes with wire in a conventional stylus and other times with antique objects such as jewelry, salt and pepper shakers and thimbles along with wire brushes and metallic wool associated with furniture refinishing. Silver, gold, aluminum, copper and brass are among the metals I use. Luminance and transmutation are inherent to drawing with metal. Traditionally, metalpoint was a 12th century technique and connected to representational art. My work incorporates experiential observations of natural forms fused with many layers of concerns. Forms in nature are metaphors for consciousness and compassion. A recent metalpoint series entitled, “The Last Wave,” explores wave and sound patterns of water, impermanence and my profound love and concern for the ocean.
For the past few years I’ve been studying the microscopic roundworm C. elegans. C. elegans is about as primitive an organism that exists and shares many essential biological characteristics that are central problems of human biology. S. W. Emmons noted that the same neural mechanisms are at work in worms and humans. C. elegans have nearly the same suite of genes that underlie the nervous system of humans giving the worms connectivity patterns also found in the human brain. Connectivity patterns appear throughout my work, allowing for broad spectrums of expression. I re-translate these patterns via textiles, animation, installations and artist books. Hand sewing is a close cousin to drawing. I re-purpose vintage textiles. The expression “hand of a fabric” is a sensory experience that touches on childhood memories of textiles that my mother used as a basis for dressmaking. A sewing pattern necessitates the act of construction and connectivity.
My animations employ camera-less approaches. Drawings and diagrams are blended and digitally transformed to serve as backgrounds for the projection of three-dimensional images expanding iterations of time and space. Rhythm and pulse, conjure motions of the natural world and the internal biological sound patterns of breath. I am inspired by Asian scrolls and view them as an early form of animation.
Robyn Ellenbogen: Brush with Impermanence – animation, 2016
Robyn Ellenbogen: Dystopian Turn – animation, 2016
My bamboo slip books are related to these scrolls. Bamboo slip books were the earliest form of book making in China prior to the invention of paper. I inscribe the pages with asemic writing along with the patterns incised by the path of powder post beetles. These creatures become a part of the text as unknowing collaborators.
All images copyright and courtesy of Robyn Ellenbogen
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