Glaessner’s jewel-toned compositions explore mythology, meaning, ritual and absurdity executed in strikingly bright and loose oil paints. Her subjects are glorious gender-fluid morphing beings, occupying these etherial, abstract and dream like landscapes. The figures are powerful.
In our interview, we discuss artist stories, memorable responses to work, working days, teaching, influences and work motifs…
Elizabeth, this is such a thrill to interview you. As you know I have followed your work and practice for many years now. Can you please start by telling me about your artist story. How were you trained? Tell me about your journey to where you are now?
My mom's an artist and was our elementary school art teacher so it was a big part of our childhood. She was a single mom with 3 kids so we went everywhere she went. Summer art classes in the garage, trips to museums in Houston - there was really no escaping it which turned out to be lucky for me.
That's amazing! So it has run in your family! One thing I have always been in awe of is your use of materials - it is so interesting. How did this come about/ progress?
I think I started using water based materials because I was too impatient and impulsive for oil paint.
Aha! I UNDERSTAND THAT COMPLETELY!
I could spend hours pushing paint around - it was like this spin cycle I couldn't get out of because I didn't have the attention span to approach it more methodically and also didn't know when or how to stop. So I started doing watercolors after being inspired by a visit to my college professor, Liz Ward's, studio. Water based materials opened up all these doors for me in terms of what I could do with painting. I wasn't limited in terms of ideas, but it was a challenge to figure out how to express them in a way that communicated what I saw in my head. I came back around to using oil after several years of just working with water based materials on paper. With oil, I still work impulsively and quickly - and mostly wet into wet - the same way I would with watercolor.
That's incredible, so you loosen oils down to that consistency. The depth and range of bright colours is so luminous and stunning! Do you have an artwork you would you like people to remember you for?
I don't think there is one artwork which encapsulates everything. My work builds on itself and gains meaning in the process so they need each other. But if I were to choose one body of work at this moment, I would say the small works on paper.
And, what are you working on now?
I'm just finishing a year-long artist residency in Galveston, TX where I've been working on large paintings as well as a series of works on paper.
Elizabeth, what is your studio like? Where do you like to create best?
My studio always has lots of stains on the ground because I like working on the floor and I'm not great with boundaries or putting tops on things. I also do a lot of pouring. I work with lots of different materials so I have tables and carts around for different processes - dry, wet, oil, paper - I like to keep these separate and visible. If things aren't visible, I tend to forget about them. I let things get really messy when I'm working and I don't like cleaning up at the end of the day so I usually walk into chaos and either jump into it or spend some time in the morning rearranging things. I think it would be a nightmare to have to work in a space that I couldn't get dirty in. And to answer the last question, I could not live without paper and watercolors/inks.
And do you listen to anything while you work?
I start out by listening to the news. Then in the afternoon I switch to music. I listen to a lot of different types of music in my studio and I usually listen to artists in phases - which sort of correlate to whatever I'm working on. So if I'm really feeling what I'm working on - I'll associate whomever I happened to be listening to with that feeling and get hooked for a while.
So, what does an average working day look like to you?
When I'm not teaching, I get to my studio at around 9:30 (that's aspirational, more like 10/10:30) and work until I'm hungry. I take a break for lunch, eat outside if the weather's okay, and then work until I'm hungry again. That's usually between 7 and 11. I spend long days in the studio when I can because it takes me some time to really get into it.
"Dark, light and fluid"
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
So many from so many different places. Art History, mythology, books, internet, conversations, museums, movies, music, performances, going outside. My ideas are spawned from a lot of different places and time periods and I'm not a naturally organized person so these references sort of seep in subconsciously or collide with each other in my work.
Fantastic. Okay, a Quick one, what 3 words would you use to describe your artwork ?
Dark, light and fluid
And what do you want your work to say? What are the main themes and motifs running through your work?
Is there a narrative that runs throughout?
There is no linear narrative, but certain elements start to develop meaning through context and repetition. Like the Satyr leg, for example, which stems from Pan who is a woodland creature whose name comes from Panic. When I think of Pan, I think of this hyper-sexualized being who is sad, vulnerable, and compulsive. I think of the complexities of an identity that is born out of conflict. In my work, the satyr leg has made appearances as a weapon, a fetish object, a food source. I'm interested in taking something and extrapolating meaning from one of it's parts and seeing where that leads.
I love those smaller narratives in characters. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
The teeth next to my two front teeth on the top and bottom are actually my fangs that have been moved and filed down to look like lateral incisors - which are all missing.
Definitely surprising! What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Best and worst: you'll only grow by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations- my mom
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I'd like to have oysters, mussels with a coconut curry sauce + fries, uni and frozen drinks with Freddie Mercury on a beach.
THAT'S INCREDIBLE! AND ELIZABETH - What is your greatest indulgence in life other than creating?
Haha, I would have had a better answer several years ago. so many of the things I do to indulge are really difficult or impossible to do right now (because of Covid) so I've been spending a lot of time working in the studio. I guess good food and bad tv?
WHO ARE YOUR Favourite historical female artistS?
lots more but these are the first that come to mind
Who should She Curates interview next?