Six Artists, Six Perspectives from Aspen Magazine – Elizabeth Ferrill

Six Artists, Six Perspectives

Six emerging artists from Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, exploring various disciplines, are defining what it means to be an artist today.


Unveiling Light: Growing up in the moody climes of the Pacific Northwest, Ferrill’s work is a quest for luminosity through geometric patterns and shapes.


Elizabeth Ferrill sees the quotidian details of overlooked places, recreating them through a tedious and hard-edged process known as pochoir, the use of stencils to apply gouache to a print, or in her case, gouache to a painting. The work has a photographic feel but is created by layering color through stencils to create line, shape and shadow. The gouache is applied by dabbing the color onto the paper, leaving a carpet-like texture. She is also a printmaker.

“I’m interested in public spaces that are mundane, everyday spaces,” she says. “They say a lot about our culture. I’m really intrigued by these public areas in cities or towns that are sort of afterthoughts, and yet I like to reflect upon them.”

Ferrill grew up in Seattle, did her undergraduate work at Cornish College of the Arts, worked for five years at the Nevada Museum of Art and then did her graduate work at Rhode Island School of Design. From 2009 to 2012 she worked at Anderson Ranch Arts Center as studio coordinator, then left to teach at the University of Nevada, Reno and RISD, returning in 2015 to Anderson Ranch as artistic director of painting, drawing and printmaking, and chair of the artists-in-residence program, where she also teaches printmaking.

Ferrill’s work is not about beautiful objects or places. It is more about light, shadow and color. “I see the world as shapes and positive and negative areas,” Ferrill told Aspen Public Radio. “I’m not much of a detailed sketcher; I’m more of a shape person.”

As someone who grew up in Seattle without the sun, Ferrill’s experience of the shapes and penumbra cast by architecture, and fences, utility poles and air-conditioning units informs her work. Even her small sculptures are geometric, exploring luminosity and tenebrosity. Through her art, she shines a light on places overlooked and often unseen, and the shadow from that light is cast on the viewer stirring up the psychology of solitude and the mystery of space and place. Her opaque pochoir paintings merely ask the viewer to be aware, to see something they walk past every day and notice something they didn’t before. She isn’t telling the viewer what to think, but merely asking them to see into the emptiness. –LG

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