Elana Herzog: ‘The Order of Things’


Elena Herzog's work on display in the UConn Art Building Monday. Herzog takes items that are often discarded for her fine art projects. (Emma Simard/The Daily Campus)

Elena Herzog’s work on display in the UConn Art Building Monday. Herzog takes items that are often discarded for her fine art projects. (Emma Simard/The Daily Campus)

Despite the downpour of rain on Monday Sept. 10, Elana Herzog captivated a full house with her humor and, most importantly, her contemporary art. Located in Art Building 5, Herzog’s displayed pieces ranged from small, to an almost wall length rug comprised of embroidery floss, sewing needles and various textiles.

Her exhibition, “The Order of Things”, explores contrasting aspects of human nature, focusing on the relationship between technology and culture. She does so by using scavenged pieces from markets and thrift stores around the world as well as household goods, such as staples, to create her sculptures.

With exhibitions all over the world to showcase her art, Herzog has traveled from Norway to New York, Georgia to Canada and Iceland to the Netherlands. Herzog says she is “always looking for a deal.” Essentially, Herzog gives new life to previously owned pieces and utilitarian items.

“There’s freedom in this,” Herzog explains about the inspiration behind her artwork.

Off to the side of the gallery, attendees gathered in an empty room to watch the slideshow presentation of Herzog’s works. Starting in 1990, she presented the beginning of what would become a long road to redefining what is “fine art.” Her first picture reveals several trees emerging from tables on a grassy lawn. Unorthodox and “irrational” mixed media sculptures shifted from nature to the bathroom series. Affixed with a reputation as “someone who did things in bathrooms,” Herzog reveals she purchased cheap shower curtains in the same shade of blue from dollar stores to use as her medium.

“I thought it was beautiful,” she says from behind the glow of the computer screen. The use of elastic revealed how she changed flat mediums into dynamic and anthropomorphic sculptures.

Over the course of her artistic career, curtains turned to rugs. The rugs portrayed in the pictures were utterly reminiscent of their past selves. Scaled down to bare their souls, the rugs were adhered to walls with the use of industrial staples. These skeletal forms hold their design, though most of the actual fabric is removed. They appear to sink into the wall or even to be coming out of it.
“I love how organic everything looks, how everything follows a pattern and works with the materials instead of against,” Rachel Dickson, a graduate student in the MFA program, said. Dickson noticed the intriguing use of embroidery in the rug on the far back wall. Although briefly appearing on some pieces, this is a new venture for Herzog.

To cap off this evening on the highest of notes, Herzog explained she uses scraps from thrifts and cheap material in their own individual works. Rather than throw these goods away, she recycles them into flowing pieces along walls of her own making. This sheds light on the idea of “fine art” and the “value” of it. Herzog’s materials are accessible. She uses items that are mass produced and turns them into original art.

Sarah Baksh is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at sarah.baksh@uconn.edu.

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