Elizabeth Spencer Spotswood
As a little girl I was a smooth, freckled face amongst a sea of wrinkles, a rapt expression enchanted by stories, legend and lore. A soft breeze of voices whispering in my ears as the tribe of women who raised me told me where I came from. Held tight with fingers crooked by age interlaced around my belly, my grandmother would tell me the tale of the Grey Man. And then the crooked fingers would shift from pale to dark and there I would sit listening to the story of the bastard from Tangier. Through the rotating and sure touch of the women who raised me, I was given elaborate stories to guide me, to illustrate where fiction meets fantasy, shadow becomes light, and where the most tender parts that entice and tangle the human condition are eventually exposed.
The stories of my childhood told me of joy, reassured me of disappointment, and gently explained that love and pain are never far from one another. They left me with a permanent ache of what I have no other word than “homesickness” to describe. And as I listened to these stories told over and over again, I began to learn that these stories, while unique only to a fraction of the world, spoke of experienced lessons. They have become a type of collective experience that allows me to navigate through reality and develop a greater sense of identity.
I am fascinated by the idea of a surreal experience within the bounds of reality. It is not faith that is important, but encouragement that a person, a place, and a time have an element of magic and mysticism that can be revealed on an individual and intimate level. Using narratives imbedded between facets of the human condition, I am able to mold the world into a reflection of what is absolute and what is wished for. I am always seeking for ways to make this union tangible through an instinctive mixture of concept, form, and materials.
My work reflects heavily layered, magical and surreal moments enveloped with shards of nobility, where fact has little supremacy. Thus I often find myself in a rich and superstitious dream world where what I remember, what I believe, and who I am dramatically collide. I create both functional and non-functional wooden and mixed media sculptures that construct a fantastical reverie.
About the Artist:
Elizabeth Spotswood Alexander-Spencer has a Bachelors of Fine Art from Murray State University, Murray Kentucky, and a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Dartmouth Massachusetts. She also attended the Savannah College of Art in Savannah, GA and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC.
Spencer’s work is included in the permanent collection of Hinson Art Museum at Wingate University, Wingate, NC, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA, the North West School of the Arts, Charlotte, NC, the Whangarei District Council, Whangarei, New Zealand and the Whangarei Airport, New Zealand.
Spencer’s work deals with concepts revolving around the human condition, emotional space, and the balance between what is absolute and what is wished for. She combines wood, paint, nails, tarpaper, and a variety of other materials to create layered and visceral narratives. Her work has been described as rich, dramatic, wooden and mixed media narratives that construct a fantastical reverie.
Currently, Elizabeth is a studio artist and Instructor of Fine Arts at Craven Community College in New Bern, NC.