OtherPeoplesPixels Artists & Social Media Series: Ellen Greene As the Gloved Magician

OPP: We’re excited to bring you something new today to inform and inspire how you use social media as an artist. Arts writer and critic, Alicia Eler, is the author of this series in conversation with artists who use social media to their advantage. We all know we’re “supposed” to be promoting ourselves as creative practitioners on social sites, but how can we do this authentically? Should we and can we use these sites to share our work, create a following, find opportunities or even contribute to and feed back into our art practices? We hope you enjoy this post and stay tuned for more on this subject on the OPPblog.

For this first installation, Alicia spoke with artist Ellen Greene, who puts a feminist twist on the hypermasculine language of tattoo flash. She creates and paints this new lexicon of tattoo flash onto womens’ leather handgloves, which act as a second skin that allows the tattoo-covered mother to tell her story. She recently wrote a catalogue essay for Ms. Greene’s latest exhibition, Invisible Mother’s Milk at Packer-Schopf Gallery; it will run in the next issue of Raw Visions magazine.

Have ideas for a topic you’d really like covered on the OPPblog? Email us at blog [at]  otherpeoplespixels.com.

AE: Before we get into social media, tell me a bit about your work. You use acrylic paint on vintage leather womens’ hand gloves. Your use of symbols is interesting to me—you take the language of classic tattoo flash and reimagine it through the lens of a badass mom who’s also an outright feminist. Why do you make what you make? Why do you only use gloves? Why not soft leather shoes or even t-shirts, for example? 

EG: I began collecting gloves because they were objects that I found intriguing. They are made with such fine thin leather and stitched together so delicately over every finger. They are symbolic of an über-feminine aesthetic and belonged to a certain kind of lady who dressed very formally for church, funerals and parties. When I would find them in a thrift store, in bins with coin purses and doilies, they just seemed so beautiful and sad at the same time. They were something forgotten. So, for a time gloves were just beautiful things that I would collect and take back to my studio. I began to paint on them around the same time that I was getting tattoos. I was drawn to the hyper-masculinity of traditional tattoo art. When I say traditional, I mean the western tradition of sailor-style tattoos with imagery of panthers, ladies with big boobs, birds, stars and hearts. I loved how the tattoo artist could use only a few simple images to imply so many emotions. The body became magical, covered with symbols of the person’s experience.