Join us for our latest episode in which we pose 5 Questions to creatives aimed at contextualizing their respective bodies of work within the St. Louis artworld and beyond, this time we’re chatting with Ellie Balk.
Ellie Balk is a St. Louis native who earned her BFA in painting in 2002 at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, afterwhich she moved to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and graduated with a MFA in painting from Pratt Institute in 2005. Her work centers around mathematics and data visualization. She is inspired by data to ignite investigation and interaction. The works look formally abstract, but with examination they reveal information that can be “read” by the viewer. For her public art murals, she likes to involve the community in the making of art as much as possible, allowing people to experience a connection to the space and to each other. Info-graphics, data and color-coding provides a strict structure for the design which allows community participants a comfortable way into the painting process. This direct engagement with the public facilitates a dialog that builds community. Artwork made with the public needs to employ this intimacy with the community and allow a direct link to the space.
Ellie’s goal with her public work is to create an experience for connection. Through painting, printmaking, stained glass and sculpture, Ellie creates systems for documenting space, time and sound creating designs that are allow for interactive visual play. Within the domain of Arts Education, she focuses her work on curriculum integrated school beautification projects for permanent installation. Ellie has worked with over 40 schools and institutions across the nation. Ellie was the President of SONYA (South of the Navy Yard Artists) where she worked to connect Brooklyn artists through organizing exhibitions, open studios, workshops and community events. Ellie was the co-founder of Art Camp @ Alamander, an arts focused camp for young artists in Brooklyn. In St. Louis she is creating work in the Public Schools through Springboard for Learning, partnering with local organizations and curating exhibitions at various institutions and galleries. Ellie creates her work through support from numerous grants and partnerships with community organizations. She has received generous support from The National Endowment for the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council, The Walentas Family Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts. She has partnerships in Brooklyn with BRIC, 92nd Street Y, Grand Street Business Improvement District, Graham Avenue BID, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis.
5 Questions is a program by Critical Mass for the Visual Arts – a nonprofit, self-formed visual arts collaborative dedicated to promoting, enhancing and initiating contemporary visual art in the St. Louis region.
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Or at criticalmassart.org/fivequestions, on twitter @criticalmassSTL
-with Ellie Balk and Joe Kohlburn
Editing- Sarah Hammond
Production- Brett Williams