The Workspace residency at Dieu Donné has been a foray into a new world for me – an introduction to a medium that I hope will become an ongoing part of my practice. I’ve used the residency largely as a chance to learn and explore, and as such it has been a luxurious opportunity and a privilege. The program provides a completely hands on experience that is enhanced by the expertise of a professional papermaker. This is the first time I’ve ever worked with a skilled collaborator, or seen the execution of my ideas facilitated by an expert. At the risk of sounding cliché, at the mill I feel like a kid in a candy store. It is filled with a marvelous array of tactile and visual delights in the form of different kinds of pulp, an amazingly brilliant range of color possibilities, and the seemingly magical powers of its presses, stencils, molds and other paraphernalia. It is a celebration of visual and tactile pleasure, and their expressive capability.
My artistic practice consists largely of making mixed media sculpture and installation using found and collected materials. For the past ten years I’ve made most of my work by stapling found textiles—often bedspreads and carpets—to the walls using thousands of metal staples. Parts of the fabric and the staples are then removed and sometimes reapplied, leaving a residue of shredded fabric and perforated wall surface in some areas, and densely stapled and built-up areas elsewhere. Through my experience working with fabric I’ve become I’ve become increasingly interested in the history of the textile industry from a social and technological point of view. I find interesting parallels between the paper and and the textile industry.
My goal in this residency has been to initiate new work that is related to my studio and installation practice, but independent from it. I did not want the connections between these bodies of work to be superficial. I needed to arrive at work whose structural integrity I understand. While in most of my work I am engaged in the deconstruction of existing things, at Dieu Donné I was called upon to actually “make” something “from scratch” using any number of techniques. This residency has given me access to a medium with an artisanal history, which encourages small-scale, intimate work, of which I have done little in recent years.
— Elana Herzog, 2009
Elana Herzog lives and works in New York City, where she is represented by Lmak Projects. Her BA is from Bennington College and her MFA is from Alfred University.