“Like the prayer books they reference, muse upon, and celebrate, her [Ellen Wiener’s] paintings submit the confidences of personal experience to a ceremonial protocol that derives from the common day – the rule of light that ordered a monk’s attention from Matins through Lauds and back again, illuminating inwardness by opening within it broad perspectives of vision and reverie. Through the absorptive tissue of symbol, metaphor, imagery and natural forms she has created in her work, the artist invites us into still, small chapels of contemplation. There the Hours unfold solitude, and reflection gives a past and future to all the light the day delivers. These works are landscapes of the timeless day- the “one day, that first day”- that is ever and always the incarnation of attention.
“The layers of visual information she creates – including meticulous botanical vignettes and night skies as well as references to instruments of inquiry and language systems which range from telescopes to Morse code- allow the sacred and the ordinary, the common and the rare, the unseen and the closely observed to exist in the same frame. With their compressed strata of memory, scrutiny, contemporary thought, and forgotten knowledge….she has concentrated her compact works with such careful calibration that they open over time, revealing themselves quietly to an audience of one, in fact, the paintings are best seen exhibited not on a wall but propped on a table, so one can sit and peer into the network of allusions they connect, as one might concentrate on- and enter into- a book. Indeed one must fight the compulsion to pick them up for closer reading.”
From the essay The Still Small Hours by James Mustich, Jr. James Mustich, Jr. was co-founder, and, for twenty years, publisher of the book catalogue, A Common Reader. He is now Editor-in-Chief, Barnes and Noble Review. Courtesy of ellenwiener.com
Ms. Wiener donated the use of her work to The Ubuntu Reredos, a multimedia altarpiece created for the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
On View: ‘Blue History”, flat detail, ink and media on paper, by Ellen Wiener.
About the Artist: Ellen Wiener is a visual artist currently working on a series based on Medieval Books of Hours. She holds degrees from Bennington College and Queens College, CUNY, and has taught at the university level since 1985.
Faculty positions include appointments at: Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Queens College CUNY, St. Mary’s Honors College of Maryland, SUNY Stony Brook, Suffolk County Community College, Sweet Briar College, Louisiana State University, and The University of New Mexico. Her work has been shown widely in the United States in many gallery, library and museum exhibitions including 19 solo shows.
She has, by invitation, lectured on her work at The International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo Michigan, The International Society for Hildegard von Bingen Studies, Haverford College, Brooklyn College, Princeton Theological Seminary, Maryland Art Institute, American University, Long Island University, Swarthmore College and The Institute for Medieval Studies at The University of New Mexico. Her research has involved study at Union Theological Seminary, The New School University in conjunction with The Morgan Library, The Christian Index at Princeton University and The New York Botanical Garden. She is a member of The Custer Institute Observatory in Southold NY.
Ms. Wiener’s work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Forum, The Village Voice, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has received several honors including; The Andrew Carnegie Prize for Painting from The National Academy of Design in NYC, The William Randoph Hearst Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers from The American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Ma., residency grants from The MacDowell Colony, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, Holy Cross Monastery and stipends from The New York Foundation for the Arts. Courtesy of ellenwiener.com