Stew Ellington  ::  Communicator
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Art Statement


In college, I developed an attraction to grids and began using them as a launchpad for my work. I wasn't sure what the attraction was about initially; I knew I enjoyed drawing on graph paper and letting the structure guide me as I responded to it, but I also knew something more was going on. Much later, I understood that I had been tuning in to the grid's capacity as a catalyst for the structuring of visual language.

90° angles became the basis for much of my work and were reflected in my senior year thesis project in sculpture. I also became interested in expressions of language at this time. My thesis project addressed the language of consumer goods; specifically, how it creates an artificial world of desire that often takes precedence over the natural world. I was exploring that which makes consumer products seductive by creating non-functional "art appliances" with an appearance of functionality.

After college, I developed an interest in written language. I attempted to represent on the grid a place in time when contrived symbols make mathematical, repetitive sense, but don't impart universal meaning, remaining visible as signs. Eventually, I understood the grid to be an arbitrarily designated representation of that which brings language and ideas into manifestation. It is an unquantifiable, unqualifiable platform upon which consciousness springs to life. To acquire proximity to the grid is to acquire proximity to the origin of being. All manifestations on this side of the grid may be empirically experienced and quantified/qualified. Belief in the existence of a universal generator beyond the grid requires a leap of faith, or an intuitive vision. Leaps of faith are those things in life that do the most for us when we have the courage to act on them. I believe the art-making process involves courageous leaps of faith.

I currently make paintings on canvas in acrylics, oils, ink, and found objects. My work addresses ideas of language, spirituality, and consciousness, and runs in two discrete directions: (1)minimal, repetitive compositions utilized to instill an introspective, quieting, and "spiritual" response in a viewer and (2)more complex, culturally textual compositions that pursue commentary on popular visual language systems. My paintings also address the concept of language as a cognitive tool that determines identity. Ultimately, they comedically illustrate the futility of the attempt to transcribe spiritual experience into language.

While addressing ideas on consciousness, my work also speaks on what it means to live in a technologically advanced society of consumables. It comments on my identity as a painter operating within the perhaps contrary contexts of lofty ideas and digitally produced advertising. I believe the spiritual quest to be the pursuit of "true" identity and that the development of identity depends upon the integration of the disparate sectors of the mind. To me, the greatest work of art would be an algorithm housed in a machine that people could enter and later emerge more integrated in their life experience. The desire for spirituality manifests itself in the forms of love and levity, feelings I express in my paintings. My primary conceptual motivation is derived from the contradiction and struggle between realized and idealized being.