Our very own Elise Williams has been at Danger for three years this month, and she’s been busier than ever. Just recently, she wrapped up her artist residency with Murmur Media. She also had her first solo exhibition titled Dive since making her move to Atlanta from Milledgeville, GA. Dive was the perfect opportunity for Elise to showcase how she has been developing as an artist who went from strictly making drawings to now making large and intricate sculptures that create an immersive experience through sound and light.
Despite the success of Dive, Elise is ready to make her next creative leap. She continues to explore her favorite media, coffee filters and chicken wire, and is looking for ways to push it further. Having just now introduced lighting into her sculptural work, Elise is focused on how she can better integrate light to create a more unique experience for her audience.
Elise’s new interest in light goes even further than her sculptural work. She is currently looking into her experience as a screenprinter to inform her new exploration of textiles and glow-in-the-dark plastisols.
To gain more insight into her process, I caught up with Elise at the shop as she experimented with some garments and glow-in-the-dark inks to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art inspired by her organic and microscopic shapes.
“I enjoy the learning part of the process, it shows you that as long as you continue to create and learn you will grow and get better!”
DIVE was a big step for you in your artistic career. Now that it’s been completed, how do you feel? Reflections?
DIVE has been the largest installation I have ever made. Creating it was a huge experiment and pushed me past all of my previous boundaries with what I have made before. Reflecting back now, I can see how I could do things differently or more efficiently, but that happens with pretty much everything I make. I always come out on the other end seeing how I can improve. I enjoy the learning part of the process; it shows you that as long as you continue to create and learn you will grow and get better!
“I always come out on the other end seeing how I can improve.”
What is the most important thing you learned from putting together this exhibition?
Do not be afraid to ask for help. I waited a long time into the installation process before I started reaching out to friends for some assistance. Without them I couldn’t have completed an installation of this size to the degree I had.
How did DIVE inform your new projects?
The use of lighting has really opened a lot of doors for me as far as new ideas and ways of experimenting with the inclusion of light. I definitely plan to continue incorporating light into my next pieces. I think it really elevates the viewing experience.
“Do not be afraid to ask for help.”
Lighting and the absence of light are key components in your sculptures; how do you plan on pushing light further?
I’m really into the idea of blending the color of the coffee filters with the color of the lights that are illuminating them. I would like to try out different color patterns and experiment more with the inclusion of sound with my installations. I can definitely envision a sound-reactive light installation in my future.
On a bit smaller scale, I am also trying out some different glow-in-the-dark techniques. I’m interested in the idea of day-to-night evolution, where something has a certain appearance during the day while being charged up from the sun and at night comes alive in an almost alien luminosity.
You’ve managed to combine chicken wire and coffee filters really well in your sculptural work. Why are they your go to’s?
Through a lot of trial and error of different materials I landed on coffee filters. This medium has been a game changer for me. It’s so versatile. I have discovered different ways of dyeing to add pops of color into my pieces. I have a specific “rolling” technique that I use to create a cone shape with the coffee filters that allows me to fill a structure of chicken wire with them. The texture created when the coffee filters are massed together is quite beautiful.
“I can definitely envision a sound-reactive light installation in my future.”
Are there any new interests in regards to media for your work?
For a while now I have been super interested in textiles and the idea of unconventional sculptural pieces of wearable art. I would love to start playing around with different structures that can go on a human body!
Do you have plans of incorporating textiles and glow-in-the-dark ink into your sculptural work?
I have a plan for incorporating a glow-in-the-dark powder into the dyes I use when dyeing my coffee filters. As far as textiles, it is definitely floating around in my brain. I hope to be able to figure out a way to add that into my work in the future.
What artists are you currently looking to for inspiration? If any?
What’s next for Elise Williams? What do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
I am working on a show at the Decatur Arts Alliance later this year and aiming to have more commission opportunities. For now, I plan to try out some of my new ideas and see where it takes me!