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Artist Interview: Elizabeth Englander

Nutcrackers, toys, outgrown children’s furniture, and other discarded wooden tchotchkes are the material basis of Elizabeth Englander’s sculptures of gods, goddesses, and saints from the pantheons of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Taking artifacts from consumer culture— paradoxically loaded with memory and nostalgia, but endemically disposable—Englander reassigns the fragments new anatomical significance and joins them into abstracted bodies that capture identifying attributes of the deities they represent. Englander writes: “I like to imagine that by dismembering them, I free them from some of this karma. Refashioned into spacious, divine bodies, the resulting personal icons are indices of my dialogue with the dharma.”

Elizabeth Englander’s first solo museum exhibition, Eminem Buddhism, Volume 3, features new and recent works. The exhibition will be on view from April 7 to October 20, 2024, and will be accompanied by the artist’s first museum publication featuring an essay by Eduardo Andres Alfonso, Associate Curator.

Elizabeth Englander answered a few questions about her work and practice.

Q: What has it been like working with The Aldrich on your first solo museum exhibition?

A: So many surprises!

Q: How do you go about sourcing materials for your work? Do you have any interesting stories to share about this process?

A: The materials are sourced from thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, the street, and my home. Once I’ve brought them to the studio, I do not alter their colors or restore them. I like them to carry the scuffs and marks from their use. The only tools I use to construct them are a power drill and handsaw.

Q: What has been inspiring you lately in the studio or in your life in general?

A: My current book obsession is Steven Addis’ The Art of Zen. In the studio I’ve been listening to Nicki Minaj, Miguel, and Fatlip. On Saturdays I go to Boundless Mind Temple in Brooklyn where I practice zazen (seated meditation) and listen to the Dharma Talks given by the Temple’s monks.

Top image: Elizabeth Englander