Profiles

East City Studios: Emily Greene Liddle

Emily Lane artist Mount Rainier MD on East City Art |PROFILES |

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Emily Greene Liddle artist Mount Rainier MD on East City Art

Emily Greene Liddle in her studio with a work in progress

Editor’s note: This is the first article of what will be our occasional forays into the studios of artists living and working in Eastern DC and the Gateway Arts District.

I had the pleasure of meeting Emily Green Liddle at an art event last year and getting a short glimpse of her studio during last month’s Gateway Arts District Open house . She recently invited me back for a one-on-one chat where we discussed the visual iconography of Tim Burton, the vagaries of contemporary American pop culture and the sexiness of strawberries.

Emily’s studio is located in a renovated, turn of the century bungalow just outside the Mount Rainer commercial district whose original plans date back to the Sears catalogues of yesteryear. It’s an apt environment for an artist whose works echo several major artistic movements dating back to the 1920s. A graduate of The Catholic University of America (class of 2004) with a double-major in studio arts and arts education, she relocated to Mount Rainier shortly thereafter and has shown in a variety of group shows throughout the region.

Emily’s oeuvre is focused entirely on painting, with recent works featuring a variety of plump, succulent fruits in various states of impalement hanging throughout the studio. The first point of reference I had was that these were her modern interpretations of a traditional still-life. While she agreed that her work could be read as homage to traditional still-lifes, it is not her intention to document realistic tableaus. Rather, her inspirations lie more towards Surrealism and Dada, as demonstrated by fantastical juxtaposing of benign objects within a composition and the further skewing the proportions of those objects. Gazed at in this context, the viewer begins to see the influence of 20th century artists such as Rene Magritte and Claus Oldenberg.

Emily Greene Liddle artist Mount Rainier MD on East City Art

Fruits of Life (2003)

Also apparent in her work are strong references to both Pop Art and modern cultural iconography. She showed me two early pieces that helped her crystallize her ideas around the use of pop icons and modern culture references. The first piece, Fruits of Life, is a collage that employs glossy lips, succulent fruit, cocktail umbrellas and exotic libations to explore mainstream notions of glamour and escapism. With this piece, she began a continuing interest in examining contemporary culture through a lens of Pop iconography and lush colors. The second piece, Bite Me (Bait), features a large, glistening strawberry skewered by a fishhook. This piece was the first in her current body of work that honed her focus specifically towards our culture’s preoccupation with sexuality and violence.

Emily Greene Liddle artist Mount Rainier MD on East City Art

Bite Me (Bait)

I found this intriguing, as a viewer may not immediately connect with the notion that a still-life can be a conduit for erotic or violent expression. Emily was quick to point out that still-life, as a genre, has a long history of foreshadowing death and destruction by capturing innocuous objects, such as a vase of flowers or table of food, at a moment just before decay, reminding the viewer of the fragility of life. To this she adds a much more modern sensibility with her focus on high-gloss color and use of mundane objects. In her deft hands, a strawberry is transformed into a luscious, fecund, seed-filled object teeming with juice that is being penetrated by a harsh, metallic shaft designed to inflict maximum damage; the cultural analogies literally explode out the skin of the fruit.

The glossy, pop feel of the pieces belie the contrasting themes of sex and violence. That said Emily feels issues of sexuality and violence are so pervasive in, and fundamental to, modern culture that viewers often connect with the imagery as an emblem for these concepts, even if they cannot verbalize their feelings toward the piece.

Emily Greene Liddle artist Mount Rainier MD on East City Art

Pincushion II (2009)

As an emerging, nonrepresented artist, Emily’s work is at an ideal pricepoint for collectors seeking out the works of a new artist. She currently has work in the Urban Decay II exhibition at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Closer to home, she will be featured at the Touchstone gallery in July during their Art Deck O: DC Playing Cards exhibition. For more information, visit her website at www.emilygreeneliddle.com

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Eric Hope
Authored by: Eric Hope

Eric Hope is a curator and writer based in Brookland. He moved to Washington DC in 1997 and a twist of fate found him a volunteer marketing job at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 2009, after ten years of marketing work at large museums in DC he moved into the realm of curating, staging a variety of solo, duo and small-group shows for the Evolve Urban Arts Project. He currently freelances as a curator and writes about local artists and the DC arts scene for a variety of online publications. Originally from Missouri, Hope holds degrees in International Relations and Public Service Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.