ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Elizabeth Gourlay: Color, Chords, and Threads | At the Delamar West Hartford
At the Delamar West Hartford
1 Memorial Road, West Hartford, CT 06107
Throughout its history, the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) has celebrated regional artists who contribute invaluably to the creative ecosystem of our community and beyond. The NBMAA is proud to present Chester-based artist Elizabeth Gourlay as the subject of the Delamar’s next special exhibition Elizabeth Gourlay: Color, Chords, and Threads, which features over a decade of work by the artist. Spanning first and second floors of the hotel, Gourlay’s abstract and optically dazzling paintings and works on paper will delight the eye and mind. This exhibition follows on the heels of Gourlay’s recent solo exhibition at the NBMAA entitled Eclectic Threads.
The work in this exhibition spans from 2012 to 2023 and demonstrates my continued fascination with geometric form, rhythm, and color. My vocabulary of shifting bars, lines, shapes, and colors relates to musical composition. Each mark or shape is as intentional as a pianist's key strike. Small collages are the initial inspiration. These are created from found and painted paper pieces, cut and arranged in playful, ordered, or chaotic ways. The collages are the starting point and evolve gradually to larger works on paper and canvas as I introduce changes in scale, color, light, and shape.
I recognize many influences in my visual thinking. I can sense some from the house I grew up in, designed by my father, who in turn was influenced by both Japanese design and the Bauhaus. His was a unique style that included white stucco exterior walls with broken symmetry in window shapes and rooflines. His open interior spaces held elegant geometries often punctuated by dark wood trim. My mother, an interior designer, has also been a strong influence with her masterful use of color and love of fabric and textiles. My parents often collaborated and I was introduced, through them, to many dynamic, poppy colors and inventive designs of the 1960s.
Similar early influences have come from studying artists, architecture, and textiles across a broad spectrum of cultures. In the tradition of modernism, I use bold and simple design elements combined with playfulness, imagination, and an intuitive use of color, line, and shape. The spaces created often have a reference to architecture and interiors, and in the studio, I frequently work with music in the background. I feel strong connection between my paintings and minimalist and other types of music.
My work aims to resonate with viewers, stimulating interpretation and reflection. Each piece is not merely a visual presentation, but a silent dialogue between the observer and the medium, which gains meaning though shared sensibilities with music and architecture.