Elana Herzog: Ripped, Tangled, and Frayed

Main Gallery
September 29, 2023–February 4, 2024
Elana Herzog exhibition at VACNJ

Ripping, cutting, tangling, fraying, and stapling are among the many physical acts at the core of Elana Herzog’s artistic practice. For over three decades, she has dismantled and reconfigured bed sheets, blankets, carpets, and other domestic textiles, disrupting their potential to provide us with warmth, protection, and comfort. Her mixed-media constructions and installations convey a sense of the ephemeral, teetering between stages of growth and decay. Using discarded textiles sourced from her friends and family as well as from secondhand stores, and acquiring others during her extensive travels, Herzog explores the global migration of culture and technology. Many of these found materials feature floral patterns, which Herzog favors for their stylized representations of nature.

This exhibition presents stunning mixed textile works that range from raw and threadbare fabric to plush floral piecework embellished with embroidery and applique. Exhibition highlights include the artist’s signature stapled works, which involve embedding and deconstructing textiles seamlessly into gallery walls. Herzog also showcases recent large-scale wall pieces that reveal a new direction in combining and sewing fabrics from Russia, Finland, Norway, and New York City, among other places. Finally, a site-specific floor installation, Felled, features cut logs with fabric embedded in their surfaces, extending from the Main Gallery to the building’s exterior. Through artworks spanning from 1995 to the present, including artwork Herzog produced during and after her recent residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center, MacDowell, and Fountainhead, this exhibition reflects the breadth and depth of her innovative engagement with textiles.

Herzog is releasing a limited edition box set as a companion to this exhibition. The edition is a collaborative broadside featuring a handmade-paper artwork by Herzog created in collaboration with master papermaker Mina Takahashi and incorporating poetry by Brenda Coultas. To learn more about this companion piece and to purchase one of the seven exclusive variants, click here

Artist Bio: 
Elana Herzog lives and works in New York City. She earned a BA from Bennington College and an MFA from Alfred University. She has held solo exhibitions at Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Diverseworks, Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Sharjah Art Museum, and Smack Mellon, among others. Her work has been exhibited nationally in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Everson Museum of Art, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Museum of Arts and Design, David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, and Weatherspoon Art Museum. In addition, she has participated in international group exhibitions at Gustavsberg Konsthall, Sweden; Mercer Union, Canada; Museums of Bergen, Norway; and the Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland. Her work is in private and public collections including the National Academy of Design. Herzog has participated in residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Dieu Donne Paper, Fountainhead, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, MacDowell, Joan Mitchell Center, Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, Wave Hill, and Yaddo. She is the recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, Saint Gaudens Memorial Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, among others.

Installation photo above by Etienne Frossard. 

Elana Herzog,, Untitled, 2016 Wooden shipping pallet, carpet scraps Dimensions variable Photo courtesy of Alan Wiener

Elana Herzog, Untitled, 2016, Wooden shipping pallet, carpet scraps. 48 x 40 x 16 inches, Photo courtesy of Alan Wiener

Elena Herzog, Untitled, 2004, from the installation Civilization and Its Discontents, 2005 (detail) Wool and cotton carpet, metal staples in drywall on plywood panel 78 x 67 inches Photo courtesy of Alan Wiener

Elena Herzog, Untitled, 2004, from the installation Civilization and Its Discontents, 2005 (detail), Wool and cotton carpet, metal staples in drywall on plywood panel, 78 x 67 inches, Photo courtesy of Alan Wiener

Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided by The Wilf Family Foundations; Peter R. & Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation; New Jersey State Council on the Arts; The Estate of Pamela Hauptfleisch; and the Art Center community of supporters.

This project is generously supported in part by The Coby Foundation.