Improvising on Jazz
Ellen Priest’s Paintings on Collaged Paper
On display at the Institute of Sacred Music
409 Prospect Street, New Haven
March 20 - June 26
Weekdays, 9 - 4
Reception and talk by the artist
Building the Venezuelan Suite Series, 2005-2010
Institute of Sacred Music Great Hall, 409 Prospect Street
Thursday, March 29, 2012, 4:30 - 6
Talk begins at 5:15
Presented with support from Yale Divinity School
Philadelphia-area abstract painter Ellen Priest has used jazz as the subject for her layered, collaged paintings since 1990. In 2010 she completed a four-year body of work titled Jazz: Edward Simon’s ‘Venezuelan Suite’ #1-23. Priest has received two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Awards. Her first solo museum exhibition was presented by the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College in 2007.
Priest’s most recent work is a series of experimental drawings based on student jazz compositions from Berklee College of Music’s elite Global Jazz Institute in Boston. The resulting drawings and collages are on view at Berklee’s Liberal Arts Department, February 20-mid-August 2012, concurrently with this exhibition.
Priest’s inspiration comes from surprisingly diverse sources. 1) Life-long visual art influences include Cezanne’s late watercolors, Matisse’s color and compositional structure, and Abstract Expressionism, especially the paintings of Willem De Kooning and Joan Mitchell. 2) The rhythmic and harmonic structures in jazz and related African and Latin American music. 3) Her athletic pursuits, since her paintings are really about movement. Priest’s favorite sports are “balance sports,” where motion depends on weight and balance thrown off-center, often in response to terrain, like skiing.
In July 2010, Victoria Donohoe wrote about Priest’s work in two Wilmington exhibitions for The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Priest deliberately blurs the boundary between painting and jazz in her Venezuelan Suite painted collages. These use form as a language of music… Seeing jazz as full of joy and energy, able to transform sadness, Priest uses it successfully here to create materialized movement in actual worlds of colored space.”
Priest received her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1977 with a dual concentration in Christianity and the Visual Arts.