The Gallery at Sasaki is particularly pleased to welcome Elizabeth Kostojohn, with her self-titled show, Elizabeth Kostojohn: Drawings. While this is the first time the artist has exhibited at The Gallery, Elizabeth is a familiar face, as she was a Sasaki architect in a past life. Elizabeth's delicate pencil drawings, often personal and introspective in subject, invite contemplative reflection in kind from their audience. Elizabeth and her exhibition will be celebrated with an artist's reception at The Gallery at Sasaki on Thursday, August 7, from 4:30-6:30pm. To get a closer look into the inspiration and process behind Elizabeth's absorbing drawings, we talked with Elizabeth about her work.
Q: What inspired you to create the work?
A: My work tends to be about whatever ideas I'm grappling with at the moment. Drawing is a way for me to process my thoughts. It is also a very slow and meditative endeavor. In 2010 I stopped working as an architect at Sasaki in order to be a stay at home mom. This changed my life tremendously and created time for me to draw again. I think that all architects love to draw, but we don't always get a chance just to draw whatever we want. I find that still lifes and portraits best convey my thoughts.
Q: What is your connection to the medium in which you work?
A: Most of my work has been graphite on Mylar. As someone who has always liked to draw, I find the humble pencil to be both familiar and accessible. The Mylar is really a remnant from my early years in architecture. It's an obsolete medium, but one that I spent many years using. It is familiar and nostalgic. Colored pencil was a completely new medium for me, but I felt that some pieces needed to be in color. So, I needed to learn a new technique in order to complete that series. Basically, I draw because that is most comfortable to me, and drawing gives me the result that I am after.
Q: What is your process like?
A: My process depends in part on what I'm drawing. In all cases, I work from photographs. I don't have the luxury of having a model to sit still for hours, or for the food that I draw not to dry up or rot. I suppose that the gummy worms and Doritos were probably the only things that I could draw that wouldn't change much—that says something about their quality as "food," though doesn't it? I tend to work in series, staying with an idea until I feel that I've said what I needed to say about it. I'm very slow so drawings can take anywhere from a week to a few months. The length of time is also a result of not having an 8-hour work day in which to complete the work.
Q: What do you hope to evoke in the viewer?
A: I hope to simply evoke thinking. At first, a viewer may wonder what I was thinking when I did the work. But really, I'd like viewers to get past that and to see what my work leads them to think about. While my work may be personal to me, my goal is not so much for people to get to know me, but rather for people to consider what the work draws out of them. I hope that people find it contemplative.
Q: Why were you drawn to the Gallery at Sasaki?
A: As a former employee, I used to love to see the work that went up in the Gallery. Most people are pretty busy and may not get the chance to see any new art in their daily lives. Sasaki's Gallery gives people new work to contemplate every few months. I think that's inspiring, regardless of whether or not you like the work. I'm grateful to have been asked to show my work here.
Image: Elizabeth Kostojohn, Are You Still There? #1 (detail), 2012, Graphite on Mylar, 15" x 20"