International Artist-in-Residence alumnus Elizabeth McGrath (born 1967) graduated from Austin College in 1989 and received her M.F.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1993. She was selected to participate in Artpace’s London Studio Program in 1995 and the following year, she was in-residence at Artpace in the spring. From San Antonio, she moved to New York to pursue her career as an artist, but instead she discovered her passion for psychoanalysis, leading her to her current practice of psychotherapy.
Though she stopped exhibiting her work around 2002, she continued to create. The works on view in this exhibition hail from as early as 1989 (Predicament) and as recent as 2012 (Mountain Peak with Snow). The centerpieces of this exhibition are Broken and Please Watch Your Step, which were both part of her 1996 Artpace project. Each work on view underscores her ceaseless fascination with materials and her poetic, disarming combinations of the pedestrian and unexpected. Predicament began as a solid form constructed from found pieces of wood. Displeased, McGrath drilled holes in it; then, still unsatisfied, she filled the holes with Bondo. Its title refers to the quandaries she encountered throughout its conception. Broken combines a disintegrating wooden chair with a silk crochet covering that is her poetic attempt at repair. She deliberately challenges the viewer’s expectations of subjects, materials, and art itself, while also confronting her own preconceptions throughout her creative process.
In artmaking as well as counseling, McGrath privileges the dynamics not just among materials, but among artworks in an exhibition setting. Whether between materials, therapist and client, or experience and feeling, the investigation of these relationships spawns new ways of thinking and understanding.