Gail Gelburd

Artist Biography:

Art can reveal the soul of a place, and the place can inspire the unique expressions of individual artists. Art can breathe life into sorrow and joy, or create a dialogue about a social issue. My work aims to reveal the unique elements of a place and yet show that which is universal. It should make viewers stop, contemplate and be inspired. Using photography and encaustics, the work becomes an installation, sculpture or wall piece that combines the real and the imagined. Images are clearly visible and yet hidden; like life itself much of it is fleeting and mysterious.

Having had a career as an art director for years, I have swam in the sea of art, absorbing a world of images and ideas to now emerge as an artist who has things to say with my own work. Inspired by the intersection of social issues, and spirituality, I have recently also began to rework documentary photographs that I have taken from all over the world, into collage, encaustic assemblages, and installations. My current work relates to the power of nature.

Gail Gelburd is a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Eastern Connecticut State University. As a writer about art, and someone who creates art, her works cross the boundaries of the discipline in order to focus on the intersection of art, social issues, and spirituality.

Dr. Gelburd has created more than twenty exhibitions in eight countries and 20 states that focus on issues of race, poverty, prejudice, and spirituality. Many of her publications were created to accompany exhibitions such as Bearden in Black and White (Whitney Museum, Abrams Publication) and Ajiaco: Spirituality in Contemporary Cuban Art (Newark Museum). She has lectured about her work in Cuba, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Australia, England, and Wales, and at such major institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, College of William and Mary, Williams College, Chicago Art Institute, and Springfield College and her photographic images come from all these corners of the world. Her large-scale installation artwork for the exhibition Color Your World travelled to four museums.

Her latest work is about documentary photography, which is sometimes enriched with encaustic wax painting. The work was included in an exhibition, entitled Water!, in Goa, India in 2015. Her projects have focused on poverty in India, or the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, or Storm Sandy. Her most recent projects focus on the relationship between the elements of nature, and spirituality. She is interested in the unique characteristics of cultures, but at the same time the universality of the human spirit. The poetic titles add another dimension to the work. Her work has been shown in 2015 in Brooklyn, NY; Denver, Colorado; Jersey City, New Jersey; Patterson, New Jersey; Willimantic, CT; and Lee, MA.

Title: “I Am the River”

Art Proposal:

Proposal for an Installation of three dimensional photography on life size mannequins for a storefront window during the Windham Project 2017.

Art is not an activity separate from life and social or political issues. It can help us to understand the human condition and those who stand their ground to fight for social justice. Adolfo Sanchez Vasquez writes that “ great art is… an affirmation of human universality, but this universality is reached through the particular: the artist is a man of his time…All great art is particular in its origins, but universal in its results.” It is art’s ability to isolate the moment , the individual that enables it to speak to the Universal inequities in our world.

We are the earth and the earth is us. When we destroy the water, the land and the sea we poison our very being. Whether it is the Willimantic river that flows through town or the sea of Japan, the waterways are all connected as are we. Many of us have forgotten this and take our natural resources for granted. This project will specifically deal with the issues of pollution in our waterways around the world. It will start with the particular but point to the Universal. My Art conveys personal feelings, while commenting on social and political issues about the plight of our environment, specifically water. The art points the way to the realization that the personal is Universal.

This project seeks to create a personification of the rivers and the sea, bayous and ponds by wrapping life size mannequins in photographs of waterways from around the world. Three mannequins will bear the water and its pollution as their very skin. The images are enhanced by encaustic wax which is embedded with objects. This sculptural form of photography and painting will sit in a storefront window, a space usually reserved for the sale of commercial objects, and yet thereby remind us that the land and sea should not be for sale or be political pawns. The figures completely covered with the images of our environment, scream out or cry from their place in the window, or place their hands against the window looking for a way out.

Two of the mannequins that will be used to create the art pieces are shown below. Examples of smaller pieces are also included in this proposal. They reveal the technique that will be used for the new pieces. The new pieces are being created for the space. The materials used can withstand the light and heat coming into the windows. Solar powered lights in the windows will help to illuminate the forms in the evening.