Alison Elizabeth Taylor has become well-known for reinvigorating the Renaissance craft of marquetry, or intarsia wood inlay. Recently, after working within the boundaries of the limited palette afforded by natural woods, Taylor now mashes marquetry and paint in unprecedented ways creating a new perspective on painting. Taylor explains, “What interests me is a new type of surface created by the contrast of the textural qualities of the wood and the depth afforded by the paint. I found this tension was just what I needed to convey the otherworldly feeling I encountered in real life when I observed how nature adapts and mutates to accommodate encounters with the ever-encroaching urban environment.”
In Taylor’s earlier work, marquetry, a medium typically associated with wealth and power, is used to portray dystopian scenes of everyday life. Taylor creates tension between the luxurious connotations of the material and a certain abjectness in subject matter. As Taylor explains, “The tension between the subject and surface of the finished wood is what compels me. I use wood veneer to depict scenes, places, and people that are not typically represented in the medium. The natural beauty inherent in finished wood draws attention to themes more subtle or complex. A viewer can find dual associations with the opulence of Louis XIV and the squalor of wood laminate living. The splendor of the shellacked wood is an invitation to look at subjects the viewer might otherwise ignore.”
In September 2017, Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s Reclamation, a room-sized permanent installation opened at the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center at the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, NYC. Reclamation, 2017 is an architectural space on the verge of giving way to the forest. Taylor writes, “Nature never pauses in its race to reclaim, and innovation is the human response against this flow towards entropy. The continual churn of the cycle between nature and human endeavor stands at the core of this work.”
Raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Alison Elizabeth Taylor received her M.F.A. from Columbia University, Graduate School of the Arts in 2005. Recent important solo shows include: The Backwards Forwards, James Cohan Gallery (2017); Musée Historique, Chateau de Nyon, Switzerland (2015); Surface Tension, James Cohan Gallery (2013); Surface Value, Des Moines Art Center, IA (2011); American Gothic: Alison Elizabeth Taylor and Aaron Spangler, SECCA, NC (2011); Un/Inhabited at SCAD, Savannah and Atlanta, GA (2010); Foreclosed, James Cohan Gallery (2010); The College of Wooster Art Museum, OH (2009); Alison Elizabeth Taylor, James Cohan Gallery (2008); Idyll, James Cohan Gallery (2006). Important group shows include: Makeshift, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, WI (2018); I See Myself in You: Selections from the Collection, Brooklyn Museum of Art (2016); Intimisms, James Cohan Gallery (2016); First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Colombia curated by Berta Sichel (2014); Trees as Art, Peabody Essex Museum, MA, (2014); Stationary Realms, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR (2014); The Fifth Season, James Cohan Gallery (2014); Re-presenting Representation VIII, Arnot Art Museum, Arnot, NY (2014); BEYOND EARTH ART: Contemporary Artists and the Environment, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, NY (2014); Unfolding Tales: Selection from the Collection, Brooklyn Museum of Art (2013); 185th Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, National Academy Museum, NY (2010). In 2009, Taylor received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and the Smithsonian's Artist Research Fellowship Program Award. Taylor lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Taylor’s work is included in the public collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA; and Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, as well as prominent collections worldwide.