My ideas have always circulated around breaking boundaries of conventions in the fine and commercial arts industries. After working as a potter for nine years, I discovered that I could shape and combine other materials such as paper and industrial plastics and still investigate form as it sits in space.
Over time, I added sewing onto the materials. The machine became a way of drawing, using line not only as an emotive expression but also as a critical language. With an increased fascination for translucency and wanting my work to remain dimensional, I branched out to weaving clear tubing in which threads of philosophical commentary were inserted within. The work took on the look of wall sized woven books.
My use of materials have been a nod to groundbreaking icons such as fiber artists Judith Scott and Sheila Hicks, sculptor-installation artists Eva Hesse, Lygia Clark and Barbara Kruger who cross over connecting image and text.
My parallel lust for storytelling eventually transformed my work into book arts and printmaking; with my wry sense of humor, self-criticism and worldly ideas, I raise issues in a more abstract manner than artists Faith Ringgold or Sue Coe, whose careers took them on a similar path in book arts. Finally, I have begun integrating the haptics of sound into my artist books, starting with my LP Diary series.
Elise Lerner is a Connecticut based book artist integrating vision, language and sound, which form the combination of her passions as an artist and songwriter. In book arts, she explores alternative forms of the codex and breaking the boundaries of what a book is and can be. Using materials such as acetate, wire mesh, machine embroidery and digital prints - often in combination, her work gravitates between two and three dimensions. Conceptually it addresses the intimate aspects of storytelling such as existential thoughts, body image, one’s place in the world - always from a female perspective and the struggles that accompany this. She is also a lyricist and composer, marrying music and visual art.
Elise received her BA from Brandeis University, Massachusetts and continued her studies at Massachusetts College of Art as well as School of Visual Arts (NYC) in fiber arts, papermaking, and weaving. Upon graduating from college, she began her career in textile and greeting card design, and was a two time winner of the “Louie Award” from the National Greeting Card Association in Washington D.C. Her work evolved over the years, leading her to exhibit at The Center for Book Arts, NYC, Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center, MD, Torpedo Factory Art Center, VA, Desotorow Gallery, GA, Susan B. Hilles Gallery, Creative Arts Workshop, CT and internationally in Sofia Bulgaria at Ameterus International Paper Art Exhibition. Her work has been published in Lilith Magazine, has won purchase awards at the Hybrid Book Fair in Philadelphia and is in private and public collections including Paley library, Temple University, PA.
As a songwriter and composer, Elise has released multiple tracks and her song “A Midnight Wish” has been covered by world renowned Jazz artist Benny Benack III released on his EP New Years Wish. In 2020-21 Elise began collaborating with playwrights and arrangers, composing for musicals in a variety of genres to make a script come alive with song.
“Made By a Person For a Person”, was the tagline for my handmade greeting card company. I was the first to use handmade paper that incorporated sewing. My cards were featured in department stores across the U.S. including Bloomingdales & Neiman Marcus. I won two “Louie Awards” for excellence in design, given by the greeting card industry.
I worked for a decade as a potter in high fired stoneware in New Haven, CT, studying form & experimenting with glaze in gas kilns. Eventually, I began drawing & carving on my pots which led me to explore other sculptural materials.
My longing to tell a story led me to book making, beginning with traditional binding techniques. Soon thereafter, I experimented with alternative structures & materials beyond the codex. My books are collected throughout the US and abroad.
What began on a lonely New Years Eve, improvising on the piano exploded into writing over 20 songs in multiple genres for Singer/Songwriters, Pop/Jazz Artists & Musical Theater.
My latest venture is to create books that merge my own music with my art. Stay tuned for additions to the LP Diary Series, where a song becomes the inspiration for a book.
Ideas for books are rooted in serious themes & concepts but emerge from playing with materials often in a very messy environment. The more materials around me, the more I experiment. My studio is essentially a big playpen.
I particularly love working with translucent materials, they represent the invisible nature of emotions. I am attracted to the raw look of thread and the makeshift way of joining, because it expresses the realness of spontaneity.
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