Interviewer: Krista Kelly
Interviewee: Elizabeth Ullman
Looking out of the Car Window
Elizabeth Ullman is a Texas State Senior who recently showed in the Texas State BFA
which is an exhibition put on in the Texas State Galleries which displays the final works of
the students receiving their Bachelors in the School of Fine Arts. Using both digital
photography Elizabeth is able to create detailed images producing a large panoramic
landscapes such as her works Eminence and Palisade. Elizabeth utilizes screen-printing
techniques and lithography to further push her photography of these realistic landscapes
into the abstract, thus creating pseudo-realistic fleeting moment. With no political,
environmental or social reference to the works Elizabeth is able to create a work that
exists purely as an abstracted landscape. But how did she get to this pseudo-realistic
photographed landscapes? That is what we will find out.
Eminence: 108x24in; Inkjet Print Palisade: 144x24in; Inkjet print
K: Hello Elizabeth so let’s begin with the basic question.
E: (haha) Sounds good to me.
K: What is your background in art?
E: I have always been interested in art. I originally started with drawing as a child,
continuing to draw through in high school by taking the art elective courses.
K: When first applying to Colleges did you want to carry on practicing or choose a more
potentially lucrative major?
E: I chose a Major in Fine Arts originally, Yes. It only seemed natural to carry my art
practice into my College career.
K: Is photography your preferred medium?
E: Growing up it was always drawing that I chose to work with. Whether it was pen or
pencil I would find myself getting mentally lost in my drawings. I would spend hours on a
drawing to make it perfect in my eyes. I love for my work to show as much detail as I can.
But from a trip I took to Colorado and getting to experiment with those photos and taking
photography courses at Texas State I find now that photography and screen-printing allow
me to get more detail in less amount of time than drawing, giving me more time to
experiment and push my work. So for right now yes, photography is my preferred
K: It is clear art has been a permanent component in your life and you mentioned
Colorado earlier as sparking your interest in photography. So what is it about Colorado
that inspires this work?
E: Well, it was everything about Colorado (haha) I have a wanderlust mind. I love
travelling and seeing what the world has to offer, and have you seen how beautiful those
mountain tops in Colorado are in winter?
K: Yes I have (haha)
E: Then you know how beautiful they are. But we live in Texas. There are not
many mountains in Texas so I was forced to think outside the box in order to capture what
I wanted, and the one thing we have plenty of here are trees.
K: That is true, but how are our Texas Trees like Colorado Mountains?
E: Well the trees are very similar to mountains in the way they arch and bunch
together building their own landscapes and the trees have a variety of leaves adding to the
subtle differences in the images. I like to think I am photographing tress and building my
K: I guess you got me there Elizabeth.
E: But it is not just the tree tops that make the composition of my photographs
but also the back drop of the sky that adds another aesthetic to the work. When the clouds
are so fluffy on the blue sky and the bright green trees interact with the sky it is
mesmerizing. I especially enjoy the negative space the trees create allowing you to see the
sky bleed through and wrap around the leaves.
K: So then I have to ask, how did those mountains create this panoramic work?
E: Well I find the relationship of rendering a between printmaking and photography
absolutely fascinating. So when I returned from Colorado I wanted to experiment with the
photographs in screen-printing. Through this experimenting I had accidentally created an
area of overlapping due to the process and I was very intrigued with the outcome and
decided to do more. The finished screen-print was a photo of mountains and when it
overlapped in the middle it created another layer. It built up the tones, adding another
value to the image.
K: Would this photograph work not as a panoramic but as a smaller print?
E: I am trying to recreate a feeling I possess as I gaze upon the landscape while riding
in the car. I stare out the window and am struck by how beautiful the trees are when they
meet the sky. I am continuously looking out the window and I want to walk along and stare
at my photo examining it and admiring the detail and beauty of the earth. This continuous
flow of information allows an abstracted feeling to reality.
K: How do you keep this flow of information from getting distorted or blurred?
E Through the camera I use. My photographs are taken with a 4×5 camera to include
this incredible detail that the eye may catch but doesn’t register fully in the moving
moment. Using the 4×5 allows me to print my images at a large scale without losing any of
that information, while the larger scale recreates that feeling of looking out a window.
While these images when singular are realistic and focused, when collaged together to
create the final panoramic photo they become other world like.
K: Would this effect be achievable in another medium apart from photography?
E: For me no it would not. The work is to exist in this abstracted form that I only find
achievable through the ways you can manipulate a print. These manipulations would not
necessarily add the same abstracted aesthetic I seek in the finished product if I were to do
it in another medium.
K: Have you always searched for this abstraction in your photography?
E: In a way yes. I think it was brought out as I kept learning about and seeing other
photographer’s works. Two photographers I attribute to the aesthetics of my photography
are Nan Goldin and Uta Barth. I love the raw, in the moment or fleeting moment realism
that Nan Goldin’s photographs portray. I tried to achieve this by doing similar
photographs of my friends but found no real inspiration in them and it felt forced to be
quite honest. The only photo I was able to get that stirred any emotion was of a friend of
my drinking out of a carton of milk. I think a lot about Uta Barth’s photographs when I
intentionally overlap the images to create multiple flat tones throughout the image. It is
this monotone of images as well as the abstracted landscape quality that I draw from Uta
K: How do you think using these very different aesthetics from these two photographers
create your abstracted landscape and the aesthetic?
E: The simple color pallet is light and delicate in Barth’s work and I try to portray the same
quality in my photographs making the photo feel dream-like. Also how the image is
broken up into sections by the light is something I look to achieve when I overlap my
images and create a break. So drawing from real-life fleeting moments from Nan Goldin
and applying it to my vision of a landscape passing by the window, and creating this
detailed monotone blurred overlapping images allows me to draw from what I have
learned from both Goldin’s and Barth’s work. Creating this abstracted dream like real-life
K: Wow, I must be honest, I wasn’t sure how Nan Goldin’s and Uta Barth’s works
could be used together but I see that you have successfully found that combination.
E: (haha) Thanks!
K: This was an eye opening interview into your work, I only have one last question
for you. When I practiced art I would find myself in artistic ruts or just feeling lost in
my practice, Have you ever felt this way and what advice do you have to give for others
who may have this feeling?
E: I have felt lost in this practice many times. That feeling of not knowing where
you want to push your work is one of the hardest to get out of. Something that works for
me is experimenting. I experiment with lots of mediums and printing techniques and see
in what way, whether good or bad, they will push what I am doing. A lot of the time I find a
whole new means of creating and will lead me down a more inspired art path. I can’t speak
for everyone but experimenting is my main means of getting out of ruts and creating
K: Awesome! Thank you again for sitting and chatting with me!
E: Thank you! This was great!
If you were looking to get lost in a dream like landscape photograph inspired by Colorado
Mountains using Texas Trees, her work is on display at Texas State Galleries from
December 12th, 2016 through December 16th, 2016. But keep an eye-out for this
experimenting photographers future exhibits and take any opportunity to get lost in
Elizabeth Ullmans dream like landscapes. (1,529)