Michigan based mixed media artist, Elizabeth Barick Fall, uses photography, found objects, encaustic wax, and other materials to create layered and nuanced works of art that speak to social and environmental themes.
She holds a BFA from the University of Michigan, and an MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art. In addition to practicing and exhibiting her work, she is the founder and director of trustArt studios and Barickuda Gallery in Ann Arbor. (trustArtstudios.com) She works in large and small scale, incorporating various combinations of found and collected objects, her own photographs, and encaustic painting techniques. The Midwest landscape and lifestyle strongly resonate in her imagery and materials. The content and imagery in Barick Fall's work is often drawn from themes of nature, nostalgia, memory, growth/decay, tension/harmony, the environment and the female experience.
Barick Fall's attention to craft and careful, creative methodology are evident in her subtle manipulations of form, but the power of her work lies in its content. Through her sensitively crafted objects, Elizabeth Barick Fall provokes, connects, and communicates with the viewer. While exploring societal questions, her work remains intuitive and personal, reflecting her life as a maker, a woman, a Midwesterner.
My work ranges from simple mediations on nature and quiet contemplation of moments in time, to commentary on a range of contemporary social, political and cultural issues. The environment, reproductive freedom and the intersectionality of social justice issues are often the basis for the content driven series of my work. By utilizing a variety of materials and methods, each piece is fueled by the intrinsic meaning of the materials and methods I choose to create each piece. Though the subjects, imagery and techniques I use are widely variable, the methodology, attention to detail, intentional craftsmanship, a relationship between the materials, form and content, and a deliberate consideration of every element, can be found in all of my work. I work with passion and regard for craftsmanship, and a deep consideration of the context and inspiration within the materials themselves.
What initially drew you to your medium/media of choice?
I started out as an artist with a love of metalwork, sculpture, and photography and I did my MFA in metalsmithing. I love working with so many different materials and I have amassed quite a collection of stuff over the years in addition to thousands of photographic images that I have taken. I've always been a 3D thinker and maker and being able to utilize and learn about the various properties of different materials and how to combine them physically and conceptually is very exciting to me. After learning a bit about encaustic medium a few years ago, I found it offered the opportunity for me to integrate my photo images with 3D materials. It was like the perfect opportunity to combine all of my resources, which ultimately led me to the work I am making now, and to embracing that I am truly a mixed media artist.
What aspect of your art do you hope really comes across to your audience?
I am very purposeful and deliberate with the materials, composition, details, and content of my work. My intent is that those aspects of the pieces will engage the audience so they will take a deeper look and consideration of what they are seeing. I always hope to make enough of a connection with the viewer to offer a new outlook to that which may be familiar, and/or to open the possibility of looking at things in a new way.
Who inspires you in your life, whether it be artistically or otherwise?
Artistically, a few artists whose work I have always admired include Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Joseph Cornell, Ann Hamilton, Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, and Yayoi Kusama. I also have a wonderful community of inspiring artist friends whose support and encouragement are truly gifts. Certainly, my family has always been a huge force. My parents were wonderful role models and super supportive of my artistic endeavors, and I always want to be the best version of myself that I can be for my spouse and our four daughters.
What keeps you going as an artist? Where do you find that creative drive?
I find it really exciting when I am able to turn ideas into reality. I'm sort of a compulsive creative problem solver. I always look at every angle of every challenge, in art as well as in day-to-day issues that arise, whether I want to or not. This is great most of the time, but to be honest, it can also be a problem if I allow myself to get too bogged down in it to be productive. I tend to work in fits and spurts instead of practicing a regular schedule and a deadline is a really great motivator/focusing agent for me. I have not always appreciated that about myself, but that is the way my mind has works, so I've come to accept it and actually embrace it as I've gotten older.
Tell us about your primary goal for the future. Has this goal changed over time?
My goals have changed over the years. After grad school, I intended to pursue the teaching/academic art realm, but my path took me elsewhere after I started my family and chose to put my focus on them for several years rather than on my career. Now I am focused on a reboot as a full-time artist with the goal of finding exhibition opportunities and collectors that are a good fit for my work.