b. 1958, Patterson, New Jersey; lives in New York, New York
“My work is figurative. The figures I choose have one purpose: they carry the line that I wish to draw,” explains painter Ellen Berkenblit. “The figures are not symbolic; they don’t represent anyone or anything in particular. They are the perfect excuse to get the first line going. Sometimes it is not the line that starts this domino effect—it can be a color. After that, it’s accident built on accident—a chain reaction of select accidents.”
During her 2003 residency at Tamarind, Berkenblit used the process of lithography to explore a recurring cast of characters from her paintings—often a woman, a witch, an animal such as a bear, tiger, or mouse—as they change and morph, romping around the picture plane and piquing curiosity about their activities. With an economy of line reminiscent of cartoon drawing, empty text bubbles add to the mystery of these open-ended storylines and encourage us to create our own dialogue.
Berkenblit received her BFA from Cooper Union and since 1984 has been exhibiting her work consistently. Her work is in the permanent collections of the MCA, Chicago, IL; Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, NY, and more. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014.