Angela Ellsworth creates bodies of work that traverse drawing, painting, sculpture, and performance. Many of her pieces focus on religious traditions, influenced by her familial history and its relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Interested in the work of 19th and 20th-century female mystics, Ellsworth also explores gestural language and geometry in her paintings. Soft tones radiate around lightly inscribed geometric abstractions, creating a secret and elemental language. Ellsworth's interdisciplinary approach allows her to address these concepts from multiple directions, creating remarkable and multi-layered meanings.
In this exhibition, the paintings were derived from falling pins, primordial circles, and predisposed cubes. Through these works, Ellsworth exhibits her interest in the mystic and psychic potential regarding how women “translate” in order to inform, teach, and understand the world and each other. Collectively, this series of works were inspired by divining practices of spiritualist artist Emma Kunz and the stillness of Agnes Martin’s paintings. The initial compositions for each painting, Notes for a Stone, are determined by seven pins dropped on a piece of handwoven linen and the observation of color in a desert landscape.
The exhibition also includes sculptures from the Plural Wife Project, titled "Seer Bonnets." These traditional pioneer bonnets are encrusted with thousands of steel, pearl-tipped corsage pins. Each embellished bonnet stands in for one of the multiple wives of early prophets in the Mormon Church. These bonnets speak of cohabitation, colonialism, visions, and utopian ideals of the western United States. Ellsworth explores the tensions between women having their own revelatory powers and religious institutions deeming women’s visions to be unfounded or hysterical, while men’s visions are exalted to doctrine. Works from the Plural Wife Project to date have been collected by numerous museums nationally and are in private collections internationally.
The “Pantaloncini” consist of sculptural oversized bloomers replicating original undergarments from the 1800s and are each covered in more than 50,000 brightly colored dress pins and faux pearl corsage pins. These bloomersare covered (front and back) with complex designs inspired by spiritualist artists including Emma Kunz, Hilma af Klint, and Agnes Martin. These undergarments are literally splitting at the seams, as a metaphor for their refusal to be forbidden, invisible, or silent any longer.
Ellsworth holds a MFA in painting and performance from Rutgers University and a BA in photography and painting from Hampshire College. Her work has been shown internationally including at The Getty Center (CA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia), Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland), National Review of Live Art (Glasgow, UK), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (CA), Museum of Contemporary Art (CO), Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ), Phoenix Art Museum (AZ) and as part of the 17th Biennale of Sydney.