On The Cover: Ellen Nieves | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It

On The Cover: Ellen Nieves 

Ellen Nieves, Inside, oil on unstretched canvas, 64” x 60”, 2007-08
  • Ellen Nieves, Inside, oil on unstretched canvas, 64” x 60”, 2007-08

For Ellen Nieves, painting is a pilgrimage through memory and imagination. When she’s painting, her paintbrush becomes a walking stick. “It’s always an adventure,” she says, “a hike into the internal, timeless zone.” A work of art is sometimes a search for answers, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Nieves recalls producing her earliest drawings during a period of early childhood when “why?” dominated most conversations.

Nieves explains that the cover piece, Inside, began “as my projects usually do—with questions.” She continues, “I wanted to remember the innocence of my relationship to nature. I wanted to find the animating presence inside my young self that connected me to a tree, or water, or creatures. It wasn’t just an exercise in memory, I wanted to examine how my relationship to nature had changed.”

Having moved from Detroit to Florida and then to New York City (just in time to chafe under the restrictive limitations of minimalism in the late ‘60s), Nieves finds that “nothing about painting has ever been routine.” At her Olive studio, she paints during the day and sometimes into the night, spending as much time painting as she does looking at nature or examining her work. For many years, Nieves’s paintings comprised numinous images of mountains, oceans, and glowing skyscapes. Two years ago, she began introducing figures into her work. These sometimes surreal and symbolic additions define a new focus for her viewers without sacrificing the element of continuity in her artistic intentions. Nieves’s unpeopled landscapes and her figure pieces express the same amplified, spiritual relationship to nature. The differences in style between Nieves’s paintings are like the differences between dialects whose words vary in pronunciation but not in meaning. “People tend to want you to do the same style or subject forever,” she says, “I choose to exercise the prerogative of allowing my work to evolve and change. When I reach a crossroad, I need to move forward to reveal deeper dreams as well as frailties.”

Nieves shies from imposing interpretations on her own work, asserting instead that she is “interested in the different stories they tell to different people.” In this way, the fantastic experiences filtered through her memory become our own, roused and colored by her artistry. One especially awe-inspiring aspect of her art—one that does not come across in reproductions—is her affinity for working large; Inside is roughly five-feet square.

Ellen Nieves’s paintings will be on display at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, 28 Tinker Street, Woodstock, from October 4 through November 2. An opening reception will be held on October 4, from 4 to 6pm. (845) 679-2940; www.woodstockart.org; www.ellennieves.com.


Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Sculptures and Paintings by Susan Lisbin @ HiLo Catskill

Sculptures and Paintings by Susan Lisbin

May 17-July 21 — The artist, Susan Lisbin will have an art reception, Friday, May 17th...
On The Fly Story Slam @ Club Helsinki

On The Fly Story Slam

Third Tuesday of every month, 6 p.m. Continues through Dec. 31 — On The Fly Story Slam takes place on the third Tuesday of...

View all of today's events

Chronogram on Instagram

Latest in Arts & Culture