Elyse Graham, an L.A. based artist and designer, is known for her inventive art pieces that she uses to express the depths of her imagination. Due to her constant experimentation, Graham’s most striking pieces of work become the result of her interaction with materials. Graham’s imagination and work process has won her numerous awards in design and has allowed her to share her work with anyone, anywhere.
What inspired you to create such unique art?
I love experimenting! Art-making is an investigatory process for me and I generally approach each project with a question. Whether designing jewelry, making art or housewares, I am always motivated to create something I’ve never seen before. Testing the limits of what I think is possible excites me and I strive to take the imaginary and transform it into reality.
What inspires you to continue with your work?
I am endlessly curious. Each new project pushes me to try new processes, ask more questions, and continue to experiment with everything from color and texture, to material and method.
How do you decide which objects to create art out of? For instance, the vases, jewelry and geodes?
All of the pieces in my collections are in conversation with one another. I started out making the Geode series by creating sculptures around tiny pockets of air (a cluster of balloons). These pieces were created from the inside out and I didn’t know what they would look like until I sliced them open. This idea of making a sculpture around a void let me to investigate its inverse. With the vases, I create an object inside that same void. By casting each vase within a balloon, I am essentially making a tangible form from an invisible force: breath.
What kind of art would you qualify your work under?
I see myself as an artist—that’s as specific as I’d like to be with regard to labels. I love having the freedom to choose my projects, mediums and materials as dictated by my interests.
Can you describe the process of creating your work? For example, the vases and the mirrors?
I design by making and experimenting rather than by traditional drawing. I find that my work is most successful when I let go a bit and let my materials take the lead. This process of experimentation, although often rife with failures, leads to my most interesting pieces.
The design process for the geodes as well as for the vases is largely based on experimentation. With the geodes, I started with a concept and a question: is it possible to capture a breath of air, permanently? I had never before worked with resin, but I had an idea that it might be an interesting material to experiment with. Needless to say, I had many, many failures before I was able to find a material and a technique that allowed me to prove my hypothesis and make my concept tangible. I relentlessly explore and test the properties of the materials I work with—many times this leads to a huge mess in the studio, but every once in awhile I come across something interesting–I find those moments absolutely exhilarating.
The process for the vases was less conceptual than that of the geodes and more of a challenge of material and technique. As with most of my work, I started very small and found little success at first, but after much experimentation with technique and a recalculation of my mix ratios and proportions, I was able to achieve consistency and the ability to push myself to make larger and more ambitious pieces.
To create the Drip Mirrors and Trays, I use a similar process of pouring resin to the one I use to coat the interior of the vases. The Drips are formed as the resin sets. I build up the layers to create a beautiful stalactite effect.
Are you trying to portray a certain theme or idea in your work?
Play and experimentation, with materials as well as techniques, are essential to my process and practice as an artist and designer. I hope that my processes allow the materials I use to transcend the way they are typically perceived. Aside from making aesthetically pleasing pieces, I hope to create objects that inspire thought, curiosity and wonder. Even within the same collection, I strive to alter and tweak my use of a material so that it appears to be something completely different.
Are there any specific settings you picture your art being displayed?
A huge part of the satisfaction I find in making art comes from being able to communicate and share my ideas with others. I have shifted my practice toward making smaller objects for the home because I love knowing the pieces will be enjoyed on a daily basis.
When does your next collection come out?
I will have a new collection for Fall 2015 coming out in late August.