Portrait of George I by Elyse Hochstadt

Portrait of George I by Elyse Hochstadt, Courtesy of the Artist

With the valiant effort of keeping with my “art diary” format and writing as much as possible in the new year (every day to be exact), I figured it would be nice to write about a Bay Area artist. I’m hoping to learn more about her work as well as her processes as the year progresses. There will be more, I can promise you that, dear reader. For now though, I’m just spinning my wheels and getting the juices flowing. So, let me begin today’s entry…

As an adult, I’m much more fascinated with fairy tales and their allegorical meanings than ever before. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with artist, Elyse Hochstadt, to discuss her art work. During our conversation, I was drawn to Portrait of George I instantly. Hochstadt mentioned her affinity to Grimm’s Fairy Tales as we talked about some sources from which she draws inspiration. Intrigued by her fascination, I couldn’t help but read through some of the various stories (i.e., The Wild Swans, The Juniper Tree, etc.) when I got home. Recalling my experience of seeing Portrait of George I, it was both a visual and physical representation of a fairy tale. Although a chair has a function and purpose in daily life, there is a repurposing of the ordinary into something extraordinary with this piece. It is enigmatic and magical. At first glance, there is a sense of wonder and fear as if the chair were to suddenly come alive to the touch. The illusion that what you are seeing in space must become something other than what it actually is, which is a well crafted piece of art work with carefully placed feathers using the chair as a base for the overall structure. However, the organic form offers no hard lines other than the wooden legs visible at the very bottom of the piece. It’s a mirage of sorts that welcomes your own interpretation and re-working of your mythologies.

This is just a mere introduction. More thoughts to come…

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

9 thoughts on “Portrait of George I by Elyse Hochstadt”

    1. Fantastic recollection of Oppenheim’s teacup. I think Ms. Hochstadt definitely wants to create objects that have their own particular spin on something mythological and fairy tale-like. Thanks for the comment.

    1. I think your observation is exactly what others might say about it. Perhaps, it stems from the fact that it actually looks like it can become something other than it is, which is a chair. It’s just a chair YET the illusion that it can take on life is what brings about those feelings, maybe? Again, thanks so much for reading and contributing.

      1. Yes, and as you point out, inanimate objects taking on life, things turning into other things, people into animals, brothers into swans, is a huge part of Grimms fairy tales. I was quite immersed in those as a child (my father is a native German speaker) and I’m sure that’s part of the attraction/repulsion.

      2. This is getting even better! This is why Art is rad! The connections that are drawn are amazing. I’m sure there are many iterations of Grimm’s Fairy Tales due to translation. I’m actually trying to teach myself German (my girlfriend knows how to speak it and is part German). In any case, with art, much of contemporary art plays on the viewer’s ambivalence, which is one of the many reasons I’m a huge fan and art lover.

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