artnet Asks: Elizabeth Jaeger

This young sculptor is carrying on the visceral tradition of Louise Bourgeois.

Elizabeth Jaeger
Elizabeth Jaeger Photo: Courtesy the artist.

Elizabeth Jaeger is a young and evocative sculptor that is pushing past accepted ideas of herself, the body, and sculpture as a medium. She sculpts life-size and often visceral models of women, and, most recently, dogs, working from raw feelings and a sort of bourgeois guilt for the things happening around her. Her most recent group of dog sculptures and bodily influenced furniture is on view currently in her first solo show at Jack Hanley Gallery. The Brooklyn-based artist is also currently teaching a class on sculpture, “Show And Tell, a Sculpture Forum,” at the free experimental art school B.H.Q.F.U. She co-runs a publishing group, Peradam, which specializes in artist books. Her work has been exhibited in group shows in New York and Europe. artnet News caught up with the promising artist to get the scoop on her first solo show.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I still don’t know if I totally want to be an artist—it’s something I try and shy away from and am always dragged back to, it’s like a condition. The origins of my desires I attribute to growing up in a bilingual school and never learning either language very well. I’ve always had creative leanings, but I specifically remember in 7th grade, bored out of my mind in French class, I realized I could draw classmates and it would actually look like them. This, in contrast to my fumbling through language, was something that felt concrete. I went on to spend most, if not all, of my time in the basement of my high school, trying to understand what was happening in the floors above. Art is exactly what it is, open to interpretation, but not at the mercy of it (the way my relationship to language is). Growing up, I needed that sense of directness to latch on to.

Elizabeth Jaeger, Mudita (2013), Hydrocal, ceramic, synthetic wig. Photo: Courtesy Elizabeth Jaeger

Elizabeth Jaeger, Mudita (2013)
Hydrocal, ceramic, and synthetic wig 
Photo courtesy of the artist.

What inspires you?
When I’m trying to wrap my mind around an issue, I usually think of an image or an object as a workaround logic. My work is usually born out of ideas that are and are not, simultaneously—thus relieving me of making any conclusive decision about the world around me. Without that practice, I think my mind would just chew on issues ambivalently forever.

Elizabeth Jaeger, Death & Disco (2010), Three sculptures made with ceramic, hydrocal, hair, buffalo hide, nail polish. Installation includes disco ball and house plant Photo: Courtesy Elizabeth Jaeger

Elizabeth Jaeger, Death & Disco (2010)
Three sculptures made with ceramic, hydrocal, hair, buffalo hide, and nail polish; installation includes disco ball and house plant
Photo courtesy of the artist.

If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
I have no experience relating to work by owning it—I would, however, love to install more of Louise Bourgeois’s hand sculptures inside public parks, and live near them.

Elizabeth Jaeger Installation at Jack Hanley Gallery (installation view) Photo: Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery.

Elizabeth Jaeger, installation view at Jack Hanley Gallery
Photo courtesy of Jack Hanley Gallery.

What are you working on at the moment?
Sifting through work for “And Now,” opening in Dallas, this January.

When not making art, what do you like to do? 
I wish I knew. I publish artist’s books under the name Peradam with my best friend Sam Cate-Gumpert. We’re able to work closely with artists we admire, from initial designs to distribution.

Elizabeth Jaeger’s solo show “Six-Thirty” is on view at Jack Hanley Gallery through November 9.


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