Ellen Driscoll’s work encompasses sculpture, drawing, and public art. Recent public installations include “CartOURgraphy” for Middle College High School and the International High School in Queens, “Night to Day, Here and Away” for the Sarasota National Cemetery, and “Bower” with Joyce Hwang and Matt Hume at Artpark commissioned by Mary MIss’s City as Living Laboratory. Earlier works include “The Loophole of Retreat” at the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris, and “As Above, So Below” for Grand Central Terminal. Her awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bunting Institute, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, the LEF Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, and a Fine Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work is in major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of Art. She was Program Director of Studio Arts from 2013 to 2021 and continues as Visiting Professor of Sculpture at Bard College. She has been awarded the Outstanding Educator of the Year award for 2018 from the International Sculpture Center.
There’s a huge shipping crane at the end of my new street. I hold up my thumb and align it with the edge of the shipping container on the crane. For this brief moment, they share a line in space, my body aligned to points both near and far. If indeed the tiniest speck of dust can be considered the trace material of the Big Bang, then my work inserts a human index to make points and lines of connection on that continuum from the infinitesimal to the gigantic.
In my public art, sculpture, drawing, and installations, I try to create slight shifts of perception that will provoke a wobble in the axis of certainty, and create openings for perceptual realignment. In a recent artwork, I burned the wind currents of the Atlantic Ocean into a woolen blanket passed down through generations in my family. The edges of continents were cut away at the bottom of the blanket where one’s feet would be. Land then became air. The wandering feet of the sleeper described the edges of this unknown terrain. While my materials may range from recycled plastic to Roman style mosaic, to cloth, glass, or walnut ink, my investigations—provoked by chance encounter– search for that deeper affinity underneath what is seemingly “unlike”.
“Knowledge of the world tends to dissolve the solidity of the world, leading to a perception of all that is infinitely minute, light, and mobile…But these are only the outward appearances of a single common substance that….if stirred by profound emotion….may be changed into what most differs from it.”
—Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium