• 2013



Ellie Balk

When I first read Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, I was awakened. He spoke about the lack of aura and authenticity of artwork when we see it in reproduction: He says, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”

I am inspired by the idea that we can create art that belongs to more than just a space, it can belong to the community.  I love designing ways to get people to find connections with each other.

Public art is in line with my ideas of making art present and authentic to the experience of now. I like that murals are somewhat temporary. They’re not precious, they’re  open to the elements, they allow us to interact and collaborate. Murals create ownership for everyone involved.  They are specific to place and experience, while carrying the power to transform a landscape. I like the idea of taking artwork off a pedestal and putting it on the street.

I use data to make connections to a community and to a space.  I get  energized by visualizing data we cannot see; revealing emotions, patterns and connections that would otherwise stay hidden in numbers. My role in the work is that of a composer. I drive my compositions by creating specific rule sets and color codes that build systems with which can be read and interacted by the viewer. Although the work is formally abstract, there is a language to the compositions that engage participation and investigation. I love how this invites people in to create a deeper, more personal connection with the content where something can be learned, solved and discovered.

My work centers around mathematics, but I am not a mathematician. I create musical scores, but I cannot read music nor do I know how to play an instrument. My naivety allows me to dive into an authentic artistic approach to create limitless and arbitrary systems. I am inspired by limitations.  I enjoy working with students, stakeholders and community members to find ways to integrate their ideas into concepts that create  authentic community engagement.  I believe that art has so much power in the way it can connect people.

I have spent the last 15 years making work primarily in the public realm. Through mural painting, installation, musical composition, contemporary approaches to stained glass and performance work, I encourage the viewer to become part a component to the work. The all-inclusive socially engaging nature of my process is a driving force in the art making. As an educator, I have focused my practice on Visualizing Mathematics.  I have had the privilege to work in over 40 schools nationwide to create site specific, permanent installations with high school students.  I have also been working with specific schools and school districts in writing curriculum to visualize mathematics and the common core.

I currently split my time between Brooklyn and St. Louis, while working internationally. My work can be experienced throughout New York City and St. Louis, Missouri and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mae Rim, Thailand and Kassak Sud-Senegal, West Africa.

Piano History

Public Location

Prospect Park: Carousel (June 1 - 16, 2013)

Permanent Home

Birch @ Nazareth Early Childhood Center (Delivered Fall 2013)

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